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Fool For Love

Sam Shepard

Third section of major events

Second section of major events

Important Quotations Explained

Summary

Eddie and May hear the Mercedes drive away. Eddie sees that the Countess has blown out the windshield of his truck. May tries to turn the lights back on but Eddie will not let her. Eddie decides they have to leave or keep the lights out because the Countess will surely come back. As May and Eddie face off with one another, the Old Man talks to the audience about how neither May nor Eddie resemble him.

Eddie tells May he will not leave without her. May says she doesn't love Eddie anymore. Headlights cross through the window again. Eddie tries to push May into the bathroom but she gets away from him, screams threats and teases the Countess from the doorway. It turns out the driver of the car is May's date, Martin, not the Countess. He thinks May is being attacked by Eddie and after a short scuffle, throws Eddie to the ground. May breaks up the fight and introduces Eddie as her cousin.

While May gets ready to go in the bathroom, Eddie verbally intimidates Martin though Martin does not challenge Eddie or even know that Eddie is his competition. Eddie confuses the situation by negating May's description of their relationship as cousins. Eddie will not let Martin leave. Eddie reveals that he is May's half-sister and that they "fooled around" in high school before they knew of their blood relationship. Eddie tells Martin about the day he found about his father's secret life with May's mother. The Old Man occasionally contributes his point of view. Martin cannot hear him.

May comes out of the bathroom towards the end of Eddie's story and listens in silence. When Eddie finishes, May slams the bathroom door shut and screams at Eddie for involving Martin in the story and getting the story "all turned around." May tells the story from her point of view and the way it affected her mother and her youth with her mother who was always desperately waiting for the Old Man to return. May's story is about how her mother finally decided to track down their father in his other life and found him at Eddie's house eating dinner. May ends her story by saying that when her mother tried to stop Eddie and May from having a sexual relationship, Eddie's mother shot herself in the head.

The Old Man is surprised and disturbed by this revelation, claiming that no one ever told him that tragic part of the story. He pleads with Eddie to be on the male side of the story and deny this pain that he caused his mother, but Eddie refuses. Eddie adds that his mother killed herself with the Old Man's shotgun.

The Old Man tries to justify his actions in the past to May and Eddie but they ignore him. They move toward each other and embrace. Headlights flash across the stage again and we hear a loud collision. Glass shatters, an explosion goes off and horses scream and hooves gallop outside the motel room. Martin looks out the window and tells them that Eddie's horse trailer is ablaze and the horses have been let loose.

Eddie says he's going out to see the damage that the Countess has done and promises to be right back. May packs her suitcase and tells Martin Eddie's gone. She leaves with her packed suitcase. The Old Man talks about the imaginary picture of Barbara Mandrell on the wall. He describes her as the woman of his dreams. Martin stares out the window as the fire continues to blaze outside.

Analysis

Breaking what would be a pattern of threes, May's date Martin shows up at the motel room instead of the Countess who has pulled up in her Mercedes Benz twice. Martin has in common with the play-going audience the fact that he has no previous knowledge of the relationship between May and Eddie before "meeting" them. He is innocent. He wanders into their strange and twisted power struggle without the experience of passion or confusion that they have in their lives. Martin has led a simple, easy-going life without passionate love or hate, without large dreams or disappointments. His presence heightens the absurdity of May and Eddie's situation. Martin's arrival raises the stakes of May and Eddie's decision about their future—together or apart, with new loves. Martin instills the environment with hopelessness for May's future. Martin is too different than Eddie, he is passive and naÃve, innocent and doe-eyed. He brings a sober, provincial personality to the motel room. He is no match for Eddie in sex appeal, imagination or challenge. But his banality does deeply contrast May's abnormal incestuous relationship with Eddie, an egocentric, alcoholic, insecure brat. Where Eddie can never commit to a relationship or have a stable home life, Martin could.

Martin is caring, curious, and sensitive, and kind. His largeness is not intimidating but endearing, though strong. He has genuine concern for May though he barely knows her. May has found someone who could fill a void that Eddie can never fill but his lack of challenge and lukewarm sexuality clearly predicts that Martin and May would never go one date number two if there ever were a date number one. Ironically, May sticks up for Martin and Martin sticks up for May as if he they were brother and sister when it is Eddie and May who we now gather are half-brother and sister.

Twisting the concept of truth and fiction and re-emphasizing the notion of a dual set of perspectives on their story, Eddie and May cannot agree on what version of the story to tell Martin. May says they are cousins, but when she goes into the bathroom, Eddie disagrees with her, telling Martin that they are not cousins. This puts Martin in an uncomfortable position. He is in the dark about the state of affairs between May and Eddie. Eddie confrontationally challenges Martin who is helpless against the indomitable Eddie. Martin does not try to beat Eddie at his game of verbal insults and lightly veiled threats. Instead, Martin simply allows Eddie to throw his verbal punches and eventually, to tell his story. Somehow, Martin seems to empathize with Eddie and senses that Eddie needs to tell his story.

Eddie's story paints a picture of the Old Man's philandering as a silent mystery revealed to Eddie one night during a silent walk. Eddie describes the Old Man as a passive, uninvolved, and selfish father figure who eerily formed a bond with his son Eddie by sharing with him his secret of having an affair with another woman, May's mom. Eddie says that May and he fell in love that night when he was introduced to her by seeing her in her mother's doorway though that romantic scene is absent from May's version. May's version of the story differs from Eddie's because it is told from the perspective of the daughter of the "other woman." We get the sense that Eddie's mother had the Old Man around more of the time and that May's mother was a secret to her. May's mother knew there was another woman but did not know where or who the woman was. May's mother desperately became tired of being run around and decided to cross the line of her silent, but understood agreement with the Old Man by seeking out the other woman who had the attention of the Old Man. May's mother's quest to seek out Eddie's mother drove her to a sort of madness that May resented. She repeats her mother's patter by having a passionate, consuming relationship with Eddie, a man who also has two women and cannot stay in one place. May's witness to her mother's crazed pursuit of Eddie's mother causes her to resent Eddie because she knows he treats her similarly to how her mother was treated by the Old Man. May refuses to suffer the way her mother suffered. She will not follow Eddie but will give up on him until he returns again, if he ever does.

Eddie and May realize that though they seem destined to be linked forever they cannot remain together. Eddie leaves and May knows he will not come back. May leaves into her unknown future. The Old Man is left to grapple with the wounds he has caused others and Martin remains bewildered and thoughtful about the lives he has just crossed.

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