Study Guide

Fool for Love Men and Masculinity

By Sam Shepard

Men and Masculinity

MAY: What am I supposed to call him?

EDDIE: A "guy" or something. If you called him a "guy," I'd be worried about it but since you call him a "man" you give yourself away. You're in a dumb situation with this guy by calling him a "man." You put yourself below him. (168)

Eddie is sizing up May's date through her word choices in describing him. Clearly, he's trying to figure out whether to feel threatened—and for now, he's decided Martin is no threat because May calls him a "man" instead of a "guy." We're not sure what the difference really is, but it seems to be some kind of macho logic about how cool Martin is likely to be.

"Anybody who doesn't half kill themselves falling off horses or jumping on steers is a twerp in your book." (171)

May picks up on the fact that Eddie is trying to paint Martin as somehow less macho or manly than him in his own mind with this "guy" vs. "man" distinction. Apparently, Eddie is quite the manly man cowboy, and anyone who isn't at that same level isn't likely to get his respect.

"It was about whether or not you're actually a man or not. Ya' know? Whether you're a "man" or just a "guy.'' (391)

Later, when Martin has actually arrived, it seems that Eddie might be trying to throw him off balance by telling him about his argument with May about what kind of dude he was.

"See, she says you're a man. That's what she calls you. A "man." Did you know that? That's what she calls you." (392)

Eddie continues trying to unsettle Martin, it seems, by telling Martin what May calls him. He never outright says anything bad, of course, but we get the sense he's trying to get under Martin's skin by saying that May was ::gasp:: calling Martin a man. What a… burn? There's an insult in there somewhere—we just can't quite figure out what it is.

MARTIN: Yeah, but I'm not sure what she likes.

EDDIE: What's that got to do with it? You're takin' her out to the movies, right?

MARTIN: Yeah.

EDDIE: So you pick the movie, right? The guy picks the movie. The guy's always supposed to pick the movie. (406-409)

Eddie continues with his little macho performance for Martin, trying to school the visitor on what the "guy" does on a date with a woman. Apparently, Martin is being terribly un-guylike in thinking about what May might, you know, like to see—how crazy.

"What line a' work do you follow, Martin?" (429)

Eddie never says anything bad about Martin's profession, but from May's comments earlier about how Eddie only thinks someone is manly if he's in the rodeo, we can gather that he's trying to figure out how threatened he should be by Martin and his profession. He's probably relieved to hear that Martin does yard work.

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)

It's possible the Old Man has a kind of "boys will be boys" attitude about his cheating and bigamy. At the very least, he seems to think that it's just something that someone could accidentally fall into pretty easily.

"Now, wait a second! Wait a second. Just a goddamn second here. This story doesn't hold water. (To EDDIE, who stays seated) You're not gonna' let her off the hook with that one are ya'? That's the dumbest version I ever heard in my whole life. She never blew her brains out. Nobody ever told me that. Where the hell did that come from? (to EDDIE, who remains seated) Stand up! Get on yer feet now goddammit! I wanna' hear the male side a' this thing. You gotta' represent me now. Speak on my behalf. There's no one to speak for me now! Stand up!" (556)

The Old Man thinks he needs another man to help defend his behavior toward Eddie and May's mothers—since apparently only another man/male perspective could help to "represent" the particular choices that he made?

"Stay away from her! What the hell are you doin'? Keep away from her! You two can't come together! You gotta' hold up my end a' this deal. I got nobody now! Nobody! You can't betray me! You gotta' represent me now! You're my son!" (566)

Again, the Old Man always appeals to Eddie as a potential ally (instead of May) because they are both men—which apparently, in his view, would make Eddie more understanding of his choices and sympathetic to his views. In short, he thinks they share the same ideas about what kind of behavior is within the range of normal manly stuff.

"Ya' see that picture over there? Ya' see that? Ya' know who that is? That's the woman of my dreams. That's who that is. And she's mine. She's all mine. Forever." (584)

These are the final words of the play, and they come from the Old Man. Now that his kids are gone, he can kind of slip back into his little fantasy world, in which his fantasy woman is "all his." For him, it seems that being a man is all about controlling your own reality, which includes possessing the women that you let into it.