Topdog Underdog Themes

Suzan-Lori Parks’ play Topdog/Underdog is about two brothers whose relationship ends with one killing the other. The murdered brother is prophetically named Lincoln as the other brother, the murderer, is named Booth. They were abandoned by their parents at an early age, and each was left 500 dollars to sustain themselves. Lincoln, the eldest, and Booth, younger, worked together to survive. At the start of the play, the brothers have worked out a relationship where Lincoln shares his paycheck with Booth, and Booth shares his apartment with Lincoln. Lincoln used to make money throwing 3-Card Monte on the streets, and its said that he was good. Booth aspires to learn the skill, but Lincoln, trying to eke out an honest paycheck, is reluctant to …show more content…
In the story of Romulus and Remus, for example, each brother helps the other in different ways. When living as robbers in the fields and forests of Italy, Remus’s charisma gathered a band of followers around the two brothers. Romulus helped him, of course, but Remus was the predominant leader. By doing this, Remus insured the twins’ survival. However, the King that Remus was an outlaw from (who also happened to be his long-lost uncle) eventually caught and imprisoned him. To repay what Remus had done, Romulus came to his rescue, freeing Remus, effectively giving him back his home. In Topdog/Underdog, each brother likewise contributes something unique. Lincoln, although retired from throwing 3-Card Monte, still possesses the knowledge of the hustle that Booth so desperately wants to learn. He also brings in all of the money, splitting his paycheck with his brother, like Remus making sure there was always food on the table. In return, Booth lets Lincoln live in his apartment, a passive approximation of Romulus’s act of returning Remus …show more content…
In the story of Romulus and Remus, Romulus began constructing his city, starting with the city walls. He figured that the city needed strong fortifications, and he was right. Remus, however, mocked Romulus’s city and its walls, continuously jumping over them. This infuriated Romulus. He had won the argument of how to best go about building this city to fulfill their inheritance as Kings, and yet Remus mocked him as if his plan was inferior. Every version of this story is different, but most agree on what happens next. Romulus killed Remus, tired of his disrespect. Immediately afterwards, at least according to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Romulus felt extreme remorse and fell to his knees in tears. He had murdered his brother. This end to the conflict between the legendary twins is mirrored by Booth and Lincoln. In Topdog/Underdog, Lincoln tries to teach Booth how to effectively throw cards, and demonstrates his moves by having Booth play the victim. Booth puts all the money from his original inheritance on the line to make the game feel real. Lincoln wins, losing Booth all of his inheritance. Then, he chuckles, basically mocking Booth’s inferior card throwing ability just as Remus mocked Romulus’s walls. Booth, analogous to Romulus, gets fed up with Lincoln treating him as an inferior. So, he pulls out a gun and shoots Lincoln, killing him. As a result, Booth feels the same remorse that

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