Study Guide

Fool for Love Lying/Betrayal

By Sam Shepard

Lying/Betrayal

MAY: Was this before or after your little fling with the Countess?

EDDIE: (he bangs his head into wall. Wall booms) There wasn't any fling with any Countess!

MAY: You're a liar.

EDDIE: I took her out to dinner once, okay?

MAY: Ha! (She moves upstage-right wall.)

EDDIE: Twice.

MAY: You were bumping her on a regular basis! Don't gimme that s***.

EDDIE: You can believe whatever you want.

MAY: (she stops by bathroom door, opposite Eddie) I'll believe the truth! It's less confusing. (57-65)

According to May, Eddie cheated on her repeatedly with someone named the Countess. Not only did Eddie betray her in that sense but now he doesn't even have the decency to cop to it. He's only very grudgingly admitting any kind of relationship, and the fact that he keeps revising the confession seems mighty fishy to us.

THE OLD MAN: Take a look at that picture on the wall over there. (he points at wall stage right. There is no picture but EDDIE stares at the wall.) Ya' see that? Take a good look at that. Ya' see it?

EDDIE: (staring at wall) Yeah.

THE OLD MAN: Ya' know who that is?

EDDIE: I'm not sure.

THE OLD MAN: Barbara Mandrell. That's who that is. Barbara Mandrell. You heard a' her?

EDDIE: Sure.

THE OLD MAN: Well, would you believe me if I told ya' I was married to her?

EDDIE: (pause) No.

THE OLD MAN: Well, see, now that's the difference right there. That's realism. I am actually married to Barbara Mandrell in my mind. Can you understand that?

EDDIE: Sure.

THE OLD MAN: Good. I'm glad we have an understanding. (116-126)

The Old Man is big into his own lies and fantasies, especially this idea that he's married to Barbara Mandrell. He expects other people to buy into these fantasies, too, which is pretty creepy.

EDDIE: We've got a pact.

MAY: Oh, God.

EDDIE: We made a pact.

MAY: There's nothing between us now! (183-186)

Eddie seems to imply here that he and May made promises to each other that she's somehow breaking (or betraying) by not wanting to be with him. The moment echoes the Old Man's statements about having an "understanding" with Eddie, which he later calls a pact—and that pact is to live in some kind of delusional fairy land where saying/imagining you're married to Barbara Mandrell means you are married to Barbara Mandrell.

"You're a traitor." (213)

When May refuses to give in and welcome Eddie back with open arms, Eddie gets pretty annoyed. In fact, as you can see here, he thinks of it as a kind of betrayal of whatever they had going on before.

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)

Eddie amuses himself once Martin gets there by presenting May as a big fat liar (despite the fact that he agreed to be on good behavior and lie about who he was—in fact, he suggested the cousin story). And of course, he's not wrong… she was lying, and she's definitely not interested in having the truth of their situation come out.

MARTIN: What would we do here?

EDDIE: Well, you could uh—tell each other stories.

MARTIN: Stories?

EDDIE: Yeah.

MARTIN: I don't know any stories.

EDDIE: Make 'em up.

MARTIN: That'd be lying wouldn't it?

EDDIE: No, no. Lying's when you believe it's true. If you already know it's a lie, then it's not lying. (418-425)

Hmm, interesting logic there, Eddie. Apparently, in his view, you can only be called out for lying if you don't know you're lying. If you know that something is false, then apparently you're not lying. Does that mean that he thought May actually believed the story she was telling Martin, when Eddie called her a liar? That is, does Eddie think May has made up her own reality to protect herself?

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)

Once again, Eddie emphasizes May's dishonesty to Martin—and once again, we should remember that Eddie was the one who came up with the cousin story.

"Boy, you really are incredible! You're unbelievable! Martin comes over here. He doesn't know you from Adam and you start telling him a story like that. Are you crazy? None of it's true, Martin. He's had this weird, sick idea for years now and it's totally made up. He's nuts. I don't know where he got it from. He's completely nuts." (512)

Of course, May actually isn't the most honest person—and judging from her father (a.k.a. the Old Man), it appears she gets the dishonesty… well, honestly. This is her last ditch attempt to paint Eddie as crazy to discredit the incest story.

"I heard every word. I followed it very carefully. He's told me that story a thousand times and it always changes." (515)

May is still trying to cast doubt on Eddie's story about their parents, suggesting that because it's not the truth, the details change from telling to telling. Of course, even if he is telling the truth, it's possible that he jazzes up the details a little bit for his own amusement/pleasure.

EDDIE: (quietly to MARTIN, leaning toward him) Did you think that was a story, Martin? Did you think I made that whole thing up?

MARTIN: No, I mean, at the time you were telling it, it seemed real.

EDDIE: But now you're doubting it because she says it's a lie?

MARTIN: Well—

EDDIE: She suggests it's a lie to you and all of a sudden you change your mind? Is that it? You go from true to false like that, in a second? (520-524)

Eddie calls out Martin for being so willing to just go along with whatever anyone is telling him his true in the moment. Hey, fair enough—if he's going to make sense out of these conflicting tales, Martin really has to use his own judgment and not just passively accept whatever he's being told that moment.