Study Guide

Fool for Love Violence

By Sam Shepard


MAY: You're gonna' erase me.

EDDIE: What're you talking about?

MAY: You're either gonna' erase me or have me erased.

EDDIE: Why would I want that? Are you kidding?

MAY: Because I'm in the way. (27-31)

This is one of the first moments that really give us a sense of how much violence seethes beneath the surface of May and Eddie's relationship. It's really unsettling that May would just suddenly come out with the suggestion that Eddie would "erase" May. Even though there's no real physical violence in the play, moments like this definitely give us the idea that there's more (violence) than meets the eye in their "love."

MAY: (quietly, staying in corner) I'm gonna' kill her ya' know.


MAY: Who.

EDDIE: Don't talk like that. (37-40)

And now we get to see May's scary, violent aside. Apparently she's so jealous of Eddie's girlfriend (the Countess) that she threatens to kill her. And not in a fit of anger, but "quietly." Chilling, no?

"I am. I'm gonna' kill her and then I'm gonna' kill you. Systematically. With sharp knives. Two separate knives. One for her and one for you. […] I'm gonna' torture her first though. Not you. I'm just gonna' let you have it. Probably in the midst of a kiss. Right when you think everything's been healed up. Right in the moment when you're sure you've got me buffaloed. That's when you'll die." (41)

May is on a roll, offering still more threats against the Countess—and now Eddie, too. Again, what makes it most alarming is that she's not saying this stuff in a fit of anger; she's just calmly telling Eddie that she wants to kill him and his girlfriend—and how she'd do it.

"I don't understand my feelings. I really don't. I don't understand how I could hate you so much after so much time. How, no matter how much I'd like to not hate you, I hate you even more. It grows. I can't even see you now. All I see is a picture of you. You and her. I don't even know if the picture's real anymore. I don't even care. It's a made-up picture. It invades my head. The two of you. And this picture stings even more than if I'd actually seen you with her. It cuts me. It cuts me so deep I'll never get over it. And I can't get rid of this picture either. It just comes. Uninvited. Kinda' like a little torture. And I blame you more for this little torture than I do for what you did." (127)

Now May is talking about the psychological violence that Eddie and their relationship have committed against her. She's got some serious mind wounds, it seems, and they aren't healing any time soon.

EDDIE: (makes a move toward her upstage) You been seeing somebody?

MAY: (she moves quickly down left, crosses right) When was the last time we were together, Eddie? Huh? Can you remember that far back?

EDDIE: Who've you been seeing? (He moves violently toward her.)

MAY: Don't you touch me! Don't you even think about it.

EDDIE: How long have you been seeing him! (136-140)

Here, May seems physically afraid of Eddie, giving us the sense that physical violence might actually be part of their standard dynamic—yet another example of how toxic they are.

"I'm gonna' nail his ass to the floor. Directly." (243)

Eddie is threatening to physically assault May's date when he finally arrives. Apparently, he's a wee bit jealous.

MAY: Somebody's sitting out there in that car looking straight at me.

EDDIE: (stands fast) What're they doing?

MAY: It's not a "they." It's a "she." (280-282)

And as if this wasn't enough of a circus: Now the Countess has shown up. May and Eddie aren't he only one suffering from fits of jealousy—apparently the Countess is as well, and she's hanging out in the parking lot, stalking Eddie and May. This won't end well…

"I'm not going in the bathroom! I'm not gonna' hide in my own house! I'm gonna' go out there. I'm gonna' go out there and tear her damn head off! I'm gonna' wipe her out!" (329).

After the Countess shoots out Eddie's windows and drives away, another set of headlights appears. Thinking that the Countess is back, May is not super pleased, and her violent tendencies are back in full effect. She doesn't actually end up getting her hands on the Countess, however.

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. (333-335)

Eddie and May ended up in a tussle when they thought the Countess had returned, and Martin finds them struggling when he (and not the Countess) gets inside. Because he thinks that Eddie is attacking May, Martin attacks Eddie. Now, he's apologizing, since he now knows that Eddie is May's guest.

MARTIN: (as he goes with EDDIE) Uh—do you think she's okay in there?

EDDIE: Sure she's okay. She's always okay. She just likes to take her time. Just to torture you. (454-455)

In Eddie's view, May likes psychological warfare and mind games, which is what she's doing here by not coming out of the bathroom right away. Of course, they both seem to play a lot of games with each other.