Fool For Love
Study Questions and Suggested Essay Topics
Why do you think Sam Shepard included the Old Man in the play? How would the play be different if the Old Man came in the door and talked to Eddie, Martin and May?
Are the themes of the play universal even though the story is about a dysfunctional family?
How do Eddie and May differ in their view of the American dream?
Eddie and May differ in their view of the American Dream because May and Eddie differ in their view of the past. Eddie continuously presents May with his hopes of fulfilling a dream of living together in their trailer. May has tried this life and it never rises to Eddie's expectations. May sees the harsh reality within the fantasy of Eddie's dream. She would rather work hard, make an honest living, and prove her independence. May would rather have someone by her side whom she can trust will stay with her than have Eddie some of the time. Her dream is more concrete and reality driven whereas Eddie, who believes in the fantasy that he can have May and the Countess at the same time wants to believe that if May and Eddie just followed his dream, everything would work out well. Eddie left May alone the last time they lived in the trailer. Eddie sees the dream of subsistent farming as a fulfilling way to prove his manhood by providing for May. However, his fantasy is simply that. Eddie would not really be content living alone with May in the country.
Suggested Essay Topics
What is significant about the Old Man's story about May as a baby in the cattle field?
How do the differences in May and Eddie's versions of their story reveal aspects of their character?
When do we first realize the true nature of Eddie and May's relationship? Does their blood relation change the nature of their obsession with each other?
Why is the Countess important to the story even though she does not appear on stage? How would the play change if she came in the door? Is she a realistic or symbolic element of the play? What effect does she have on the tone of the play?
How does the setting of the play contribute or detract from the themes of the play?
What is the function of the character Martin? How does his presence contribute to our understanding of the other characters?
What does Shepard mean by the title, Fool for Love?
What does the play say about parental and sibling relationships? Do you agree with Shepard's point of view?
Could May and Eddie choose to break the patterns of their parents' lives or do they lack free will?
What do you think happens to the characters after the play ends?
Have you ever been obsessed with something or felt you had to repeat a mistake even though you knew it was wrong? Why did you do what you did? Would you do it again? Why or why not?
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