August: Osage County

by

Tracy Letts

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Jean Fordham Character Analysis

Barbara and Bill’s fourteen-year-old daughter. Jean is sullen, quirky, and desperate for an escape from her difficult family; she retreats into movies and marijuana, longing to drown out her separated parents’ incessant fighting and avoid the role of judge and moral compass they have placed upon Jean’s unwilling shoulders. It’s implied that Jean has recently gone through puberty and filled out, and that she looks older than her age; Karen’s fiancé Steve is sexually attracted to Jean, and attempts to assault her one night after the two share a joint. Jean is uneasily stumbling through her adolescence, desperate not to make a “federal case” or a “big deal” out of the many slights, traumas, and difficulties her family puts onto her plate. Jean’s desire for solitude and escape is a direct reflection of the claustrophobic atmosphere of her family’s ancestral home, and her attempts to establish herself as someone distinct from the rest of her family reflect many of the more repressed adult characters’ hidden wishes for themselves.

Jean Fordham Quotes in August: Osage County

The August: Osage County quotes below are all either spoken by Jean Fordham or refer to Jean Fordham. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Parents, Children, and Inheritance Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Theatre Communications Group edition of August: Osage County published in 2008.
Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes

BILL: Barbara, please, we have enough on our hands with your parents right now. Let’s not revisit all this.

BARBARA: Revisit, when did we visit this to begin with? You pulled the rug out from under me. I still don’t know what happened. Do I bore you, intimidate you, disgust you? Is this just about the pleasures of young flesh, teenage pussy? I really need to know.

BILL: You need to know now? You want to have this discussion with Beverly missing, and your mother crazy as a loon, and our daughter twenty feet away? Do you really want to do this now? […] This discussion deserves our care. And patience. We’ll both be in a better frame of mind to talk about this once your father’s come home.

BARBARA: My father’s dead, Bill.

Related Characters: Barbara Fordham (speaker), Bill Fordham (speaker), Beverly Weston, Jean Fordham
Page Number: 39-40
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

BARBARA: Okay. Pill raid. Johnna, help me in the kitchen. Bill, take Ivy and Jean upstairs. (To Ivy.) You remember how to do this, right?

IVY: Yeah…

BARBARA: (To Jean) Everything. Go through everything, every counter, every drawer, every shoe box. Nothing’s too personal. Anything even looks suspicious, throw it in a box and we can sort it out later. You understand?

CHARLIE: What should we do?

BARBARA: Get Mom some black coffee and a wet towel and listen to her bullshit. Karen, call Dr. Burke.

KAREN: What do you want me to say?

BARBARA: Tell him we got a sick woman here.

VIOLET: You can’t do this! This is my house! This is my house!

BARBARA: You don’t get it, do you? (With a burst of adrenaline, she strides to Violet, towers over her.) I’M RUNNING THINGS NOW!

Related Characters: Violet Weston (speaker), Barbara Fordham (speaker), Ivy Weston (speaker), Karen Weston (speaker), Charlie Aiken (speaker), Jean Fordham
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire August: Osage County LitChart as a printable PDF.
August: Osage County PDF

Jean Fordham Character Timeline in August: Osage County

The timeline below shows where the character Jean Fordham appears in August: Osage County. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Parents, Children, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence, Abuse, and Power Theme Icon
Familial Responsibility and Entrapment Theme Icon
Barbara and Bill arrive on the porch, carrying suitcases. Their daughter Jean is by the car, smoking, and Barbara accuses Bill of encouraging their daughter’s habit—she is... (full context)
Familial Responsibility and Entrapment Theme Icon
...touch Barbara’s neck, but she shakes him off, telling him she’s having a hot flash. Jean joins them on the porch, and together, all three of them enter the house.  (full context)
Parents, Children, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Mattie Fae greets Bill, Barbara, and Jean enthusiastically. Mattie Fae remarks on how big Jean has gotten, and comments on the size... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Parents, Children, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Patriarchy and American Memory Theme Icon
Upstairs, Jean goes into the attic, where Johnna is reading. She greets Johnna and offers her some... (full context)
Parents, Children, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Patriarchy and American Memory Theme Icon
Familial Responsibility and Entrapment Theme Icon
Jean asks Johnna about her own parents, and Johnna tells Jean they are dead. Jean apologizes... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
Patriarchy and American Memory Theme Icon
...felt in the wake of its publication. Barbara attempts to change the subject, asking if Jean went to bed, but Bill brings the book up again. Barbara, losing her temper, yells... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
Parents, Children, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Patriarchy and American Memory Theme Icon
...recognizes him as Deon Gilbeau—someone from her past. Sheriff Gilbeau tells Barbara, Bill, Johnna, and Jean that he has some bad news for them. The department has found Beverly’s body—he is... (full context)
Parents, Children, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence, Abuse, and Power Theme Icon
Familial Responsibility and Entrapment Theme Icon
Up on the second floor, Jean sits with Barbara while Barbara brushes her hair. Barbara reveals to Jean that she and... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Parents, Children, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence, Abuse, and Power Theme Icon
Familial Responsibility and Entrapment Theme Icon
In the kitchen, Bill, Jean, and Karen’s boyfriend Steve are returning from a grocery run. Jean runs into the house... (full context)
Parents, Children, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Addiction Theme Icon
Violence, Abuse, and Power Theme Icon
Familial Responsibility and Entrapment Theme Icon
Barbara leaves the room, and Steve comes in. He starts talking to Jean about the movie, which he’s clearly knowledgeable about—Jean seems impressed. Steve asks how old she... (full context)
Addiction Theme Icon
Violence, Abuse, and Power Theme Icon
Familial Responsibility and Entrapment Theme Icon
...and asks Steve if he remembered to get cigarettes—he laments the fact that he forgot. Jean says they can bum some off her. Karen tell Jean that she’s too young to... (full context)
Parents, Children, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Familial Responsibility and Entrapment Theme Icon
...are in the dining room, arguing. Barbara accuses Bill of being an absent parent to Jean and encouraging her to act older than her age. Barbara begs Bill to “be a... (full context)
Parents, Children, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Familial Responsibility and Entrapment Theme Icon
Bill comes back in from the porch and goes to get Jean from the living room. She asks if she can eat in front of the TV;... (full context)
Violence, Abuse, and Power Theme Icon
Familial Responsibility and Entrapment Theme Icon
...but Charlie urges her to “let it go.” Charlie tries to pass the chicken to Jean, but she says she doesn’t eat meat. Violet enters with a picture of Beverly, which... (full context)
Addiction Theme Icon
After an awkward silence, Charlie begins ribbing Jean about her vegetarianism. Jean insists that when you eat an animal, you “ingest [its] fear,”... (full context)
Parents, Children, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Addiction Theme Icon
Violence, Abuse, and Power Theme Icon
Familial Responsibility and Entrapment Theme Icon
...bite of fear.” Everyone laughs. Barbara jokes that every once in a while she catches Jean eating a hamburger. Jean, indignant, calls Barbara a liar. Violet intensely tells Jean that if... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
Addiction Theme Icon
Familial Responsibility and Entrapment Theme Icon
...Barbara, and Ivy sit in the study, drinking a bottle of whiskey. Charlie, Mattie Fae, Jean, and Steve play cards in the dining room while Bill sorts through paperwork on the... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Violence, Abuse, and Power Theme Icon
Jean and Steve scamper, giggling, from the kitchen into the dining room. They are sharing a... (full context)
Violence, Abuse, and Power Theme Icon
Jean pulls away from Steve and calls him an “old perv.” Steve asks Jean to show... (full context)
Violence, Abuse, and Power Theme Icon
Familial Responsibility and Entrapment Theme Icon
...clicks back on—Johnna is standing in the entryway from the kitchen, holding a cast-iron skillet. Jean and Steve pull apart from each other, their clothes in disarray. Johnna walks right up... (full context)
Violence, Abuse, and Power Theme Icon
...him what happened, but Johnna answers for him, telling Karen that Steve was messing with Jean. Karen, though, is only concerned with Steve’s well-being. Bill and Barbara come in and ask... (full context)
Violence, Abuse, and Power Theme Icon
...Karen to get Steve out of the house. Steve insists he didn’t do anything, and Jean tells her parents to calm down. Barbara shouts to Steve that Jean is only fourteen... (full context)
Parents, Children, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence, Abuse, and Power Theme Icon
Familial Responsibility and Entrapment Theme Icon
In the dining room, Barbara, Bill, Jean, and Johnna reckon with what has just happened. Barbara and Bill tell Jean to take... (full context)
Parents, Children, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence, Abuse, and Power Theme Icon
Familial Responsibility and Entrapment Theme Icon
Barbara insists Jean tell them what Steve did. Jean replies that he didn’t do anything—even if he did,... (full context)
Violence, Abuse, and Power Theme Icon
...Steve, to return to Florida. Karen warns Barbara that she needs to find out from Jean “exactly” what happened before Barbara starts pointing any fingers. Karen says she “doubts Jean’s exactly... (full context)
Parents, Children, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence, Abuse, and Power Theme Icon
Familial Responsibility and Entrapment Theme Icon
...Bill enters the room. He announces that he is heading back to Boulder and taking Jean with him. Jean is “too much” for Barbara to deal with right now. Barbara admits... (full context)