Study Guide

Fool for Love Family

By Sam Shepard

Family

"Amazing thing is, neither one a' you look a bit familiar to me. Can't figure that one out. I don't recognize myself in either one a' you. Never did. 'Course your mothers both put their stamp on ya'. That's plan to see. But my whole side a' the issue is absent, in my opinion. Totally unrecognizable. You could be anybody's. Probably are. I can't even remember the original circumstances. Been so long. Probably a lot a' things I forgot. Good thing I got out when I did though. Best thing I ever did." (321)

This is basically the first moment in which we realize that the Old Man is both May and Eddie's father … which means they're siblings as well as lovers.

MARTIN: Oh. I heard you screaming when I drove up and then all the lights went off. I thought somebody was trying to—

MAY: It's okay. This is my uh—cousin. Eddie.

MARTIN: (stares at EDDIE) Oh. I'm sorry.

EDDIE: (grins at MARTIN) She's lying. (333-336)

Given that there's already a ton of family weirdness and confusion, it's kind of funny that May and Eddie add yet another potential family role into the mix when they lie and say Eddie was May's cousin. Really, how would saying "half brother" have been any worse? Perhaps because they know any visible sexual tension between the two of them would seem a shade more permissible between cousins than between siblings, if Martin were to pick up on that kind of thing.

EDDIE: You should thank the entire Mexican nation in fact. We owe everything to Mexico down here. Do you realize that? You probably don't realize that, do ya'. We're sittin' on Mexican ground right now. It's only by chance that you and me aren't Mexican ourselves. What kinda' people do you hail from anyway, Martin?

MARTIN: Me? Uh—I don't know. I was adopted.

EDDIE: Oh. You must have a lotta' problems then, huh?

MARTIN: Well—not really, no.

EDDIE: No? You orphans are supposed to steal a lot aren't ya'? Shoplifting and stuff. You're also supposed to be the main group responsible for bumping off our Presidents. (363-367)

This moment is dripping—nay, soaked—with irony. Yes, you read that right: Eddie is suggesting that Martin must have a screwed up family life and "a lotta' problems" because he's adopted.

"You're uh—May's cousin, huh?" (442).

Martin clearly doesn't believe the story about May and Eddie being cousins. Gee, we wonder why?

EDDIE: Askin' me if I'm her cousin. That's because you're tense you're askin' me that. You already know I'm not her cousin.

MARTIN: Well, how would I know that?

EDDIE: Do I look like her cousin.

MARTIN: Well, she said that you were.

EDDIE: (grins) She's lying. (445-449)

Again, Eddie and Martin get hung up on the truth of Eddie and May's family relationship, instead of focusing on the fact that their relationship is clearly just creepy and unhealthy, regardless of which branch in the family tree they're dangling off of.

MARTIN: And you're not really cousins?

EDDIE: No. Not really. No.

MARTIN: You're—her husband?

EDDIE: No. She's my sister. (he and THE OLD MAN look at each other, then he turns back to MARTIN) My half-sister. (465-468)

In this super creepy moment, Martin goes straight from thinking Eddie is May's cousin to thinking he's her husband. See, we told you he could see something a little bit deeper underneath this supposed "cousin" relationship.

MARTIN: Oh. So—you knew each other even before high school then, huh?

EDDIE: No, see, I never even knew I had a sister until it was too late.

MARTIN: How do you mean?

EDDIE: Well, by the time I found out we'd already—you know—fooled around. (471-474)

Now we're getting the backstory on how these two half-siblings ended up in a sexytimes (read: incestuous) relationship with each other. It seems that they had already developed an affection for each other before the Old Man's bigamy-loving ways were discovered.

MARTIN: And you fooled around in high school together?

EDDIE: Yeah. Sure. Everybody fooled around in high school. Didn't you?

MARTIN: No. I never did.

EDDIE: Maybe you should have, Martin.

MARTIN: Well, not with my sister.

EDDIE: No, I wouldn't recommend that. (486-491)

Even though he's hardly the poster child for a healthy sex life, Eddie is basically looking down on Martin for not "fooling around" in high school. Martin, for his part, doesn't really mind having missed out on the fooling around, since it meant he avoided sleeping with his sister.

MARTIN: Well, how come you didn't know each other until high school then?

EDDIE: He had two separate lives. That's how come. Two completely separate lives. He'd live with me and my mother for a while and then he'd disappear and go live with her and her mother for a while.

THE OLD MAN: Now don't be too hard on me, boy. It can happen to the best of us. (495-497)

Now Eddie is getting into the dirty (ish) details about how Eddie and May managed to meet and get interested in each other before realizing they were siblings—that is, how their father was able to deceive everyone long enough for that to happen.

"It was your shotgun. Same one we used to duck-hunt with. Browning. She never fired a gun before in her life. That was her first time." (558)

This is Eddie explaining what happened to his mother after the Old Man abandoned both of his families for good and disappeared. It wasn't pretty—apparently his mother killed herself.