Mya Rodriguez

Professor Ramos

Rhetorical Analysis

English 1B

19 Oct. 2018


Love Sees No Borders

           Lone Star

    When two people fall in love with each other they cannot help who they fall in love with, it just happens. In the case of John Sayles’ Lone Star the two main characters are Sam Deeds, who is a white man, and Pilar Cruz, who is a hispanic women. They decide to reignite their forbidden childhood love affair despite their parents attempts to keep them apart. In today’s society a mixed raced couple would not have been an issue, except the setting  takes place in the 1950’s, in a town called Frontera, where mixed raced couples are not encouraged and are looked down upon. As a result the two characters figure that their mixed race relationship must be the reason as to why their parents forbid them to be together. However, as the story line progresses it is revealed that the reason as to why Sam and Pilar’s parents repeatedly tried to keep them apart, was due to the fact that they knew that Sam and Pilar were half brother and sister. This information is only made public to the two star-crossed lovers years later after they had already rekindled their childhood love affair and realized that they never stopped loving each other throughout the years. In the end they decide not to acknowledge their half sibling relationship and be together. Certain quotes in the dialog of Lone Star written by John Sayles helps explain Sam and Pilar’s reasoning behind their decision to stay together.


In the world of Lone Star, Sayles speaks through his characters actions and dialog in order to convey to the audience  the reasoning behind Sam and Pilar’s decision. One of the first instances of this is when the character Big O tells his grandson Delmore “blood only means what you let it”(Sales). When he says this, Big O is referring to how he acknowledges his blood ties to a group of Native Americans which he proudly displays in his home. Even though in this instance the quote is directed to Big O’s Native American heritage, the quote can also allude to Sam and Pilar’s blood connection with each other and how they decide to dismiss their blood ties with one another in order to justify their insestual relationship. This in effect, causes their blood connection to loose any meaning, Sayles comments in an interview with Filmmaker magazine in reference to Sam and Pilar’s blood history stating, “You have that question of – how much do I want to carry this? Is [the history] good, or is it possible to say, “I’m going to start from scratch?””(Ratner) In Sam in Pillars case they decide to start from scratch and ignore their historical blood ties. These different scenarios give juxtaposing illustrations of how one can either choose to accept and claim their blood connections to someone or completely dismiss the information, which would leave the ties to an individual or community obsolete. An article called “Demystifying Lone Star” explains how, “one does not have to make a choice between embracing the past and embracing the present,” and illustrates  how Sam and Pilar do not let their newly found blood history, “affect the relationships or opportunities afforded to them in the present”(Leong). This quote helps the audience understand how everyone has a choice to acknowledge their past or not. In Pilar and Sam’s case they decide not to acknowledge their blood ties and in effect leave it  in the past.


Furthermore, another quote that helps convey Sayles point is “ it’s always heart heartwarming to see a prejudice defeated by a deeper prejudice”(Sayles). This was said by the character Mikey when Cliff was explaining how the parents of his African American girlfriend would not mind her dating a white man because they would just be happy that she is not a lesbian. The character Mikey in this scene comments the way he does because he is explaining the irony of how the only reason as to why  Cliff’s girlfriends  parents would be okay with her dating a white man is because it would signify that she is not a lesbian, which is a bigger prejudice than her dating a white man. This quote also connects to how Sam and Pilar’s relationship of a mixed race couple is not agreed with and looked down upon from where they are from. However, the disapproval of their relationship of being a mixed race couple, is void in their parents minds because a bigger taboo is being commited: incest. The irony of this quote was directly targeting Cliffs girlfriends parents prejudice of white people and how it was overlooked based on the fact that it would mean their daughter is not a lesbian, which to them is a bigger prejudice. Another interpretation of this quote is the underlying theme that Sayles is trying to address. Which is how it also relates to Sam and Pilar and how their parents overlooked the prejudice of  mixed raced couple because they were committing a bigger prejudice which was incest.


    In particular to the whole script the most telling dialog between Sam and Pilar which reveals Sayles underlying tone, is when they were just kids and Pilar tells Sam, “It’s supposed to be some big sin even if you love each other,” referring to their mixed race relationship and Sam replies, “you believe that,” and Pilar says “no”(Sayles). This scene between Sam and Pilar reveals how they do not understand why being a  mixed race couple is such a big problem when the love between them is pure. The negative opinion of their relationship that they are referring to is their parents unwavering attempts to keep them apart. The scene of Sam and Pilar as children shows how their love stemmed from a place of innocence and how the only sin that they believed that they were committing at the time was falling in love with someone out of their race. However, this scenario reflects Sam and Pilar’s opinion and emotions in the end of the movie. As they are contemplating if they should stay together even though they just found out that they are half brother and sister. Also, when Sam asks Pilar if  she believes what they are doing is a sin even if they love each other, it seems as though Sayles is speaking through Sam and directly asking the audience this question. In addition, Pilar and Sam explain  how their relationship started from a state of innocence with no knowledge of their blood connection as if making a plea to the audience. The other is Sayles underlying tone of how this conversation reflects Sam and Pilar’s thinking behind choosing to be together in the end despite the newly found information that was uncovered.


    Throughout the movie Lone Star, writer John Sayles leaves behind multiple underlying tones that aide the audience in understanding Sam and Pilar’s mindset in the decision to stay together. The final quote that executes Sayles message is in the last line of the movie when Pilar says to Sam, “forget the Alamo”(Sayles). According to an article “Blood Only Means What You Let It” this quote signifies, “ a new hope, a break with tradition” for the young couple who so desperately want to get away from their past ties. This quote was placed at the very end of the movie intentionally by Sayles to give the underlying tone to the audience that Sam and Pilar will in fact keep this newly found information, in the past and move forward for a fresh start. The forbidden love between Sam and Pilar depicted in the film causes the audience to empathize with the two characters and root for them to be together. However, these emotions come to a screeching halt when it is revealed that they are in fact half brother and sister. From this point on Sayles allows the audience to decide whether or not they agree with their relationship just as the two characters contemplate their decision for themselves.

Annotated Bibliography

A. Leong, Anthony. “Demystifying Lone Star.”1997, Accessed 13 Oct. 2018

I chose to utilize this article because it highlights a majority of the underlying tones of the movie especially the tone of how and why Sam and Pilar decide to make the decision that they did. This supports that Sam and Pilar do not in fact have to make a choice about embracing or disregarding their past.

B. Magowan, Kim. “Blood Only Means What You Let It.” vol.57, no.1, 2003, pp. 20-31.

I chose this article to use because it breaks apart the movie and script in order to analyze what exactly the screen writer is trying to say and elude to. This article also goes into detail as to how the last quote of the film eludes to how Sam and Pilar will in fact move forward and shed their past.

C. Ratner, Megan. “Boardelines.”Filmmaker,

summer1996/sayles.php.Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.

This article was most useful to use because it quotes the actual screenplay writer/director on his stance on Sam and Pilar’s relationship which was that they have a choice to make to either leave their past in the past or to carry it with them.

D. Sayles, Arthur, director. Lone Star. 1996. Produced by Maggie Renzi and R. Paul Miller,

Widescreen, Castle Rock Entertainment.

This movie was most useful because by watching the actors act out the screenplay and by listening to the words you are able to make the connections and hear the undertones and illusions that is trying to be portrayed. It also helps the audience visualize Sam and Pilars relationship not as a grotesque incestual relationship but one of innocence and unknowingness of their deeper ties to one another.

E. Sayles, Arthur. Lone Star. 1996, Accessed 13Oct. 2018.

I utilized this screenplay script because it allows me to pull direct quotes from the movie. Also it aided me in properly analyzing the deeper meanings of the underlying tones that are trying to be conveyed to the audience such as the reasoning behind Pilar and Sam’s decision.