Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Jean Thompson’s stories are consistently ironic and often cynical. In “All Shall Love Me and Despair,” the lead story in Who Do You Love: Stories (1999), she explores the theme of love and views young love cynically. In doing so, she chronicles the transformation of Annie from a doormat to an independent woman. As the story progresses, Annie realizes that Scout is a hopeless junkie and always will be.

Annie shows her uncertainty about building a future with him during their trip across the country to Oregon. When she pulls into the service station and gets Scout to clean up, the idea of abandoning him crosses her mind, but she drops the idea. Once in Oregon, Scout is wholly negative. Annie whispers to him that she loves him, then urges him to say that he likes Oregon. Instead, he complains about the rain.

Thompson shows the differences between the two young people’s outlooks in a scene that involves flying kites on the beach. Scout, indifferent to Annie and her feelings, all at once twirls her around and says that he will buy a big kite, one so big that it can eat all the other kites. Annie wants to tell him that this is not what a kite is for, but she remains silent.

As the theme of fading love advances, a turning point occurs after ghost telephone calls come into Scout and Annie’s cottage when Annie is alone. She is so frightened that she stops answering the telephone. Shortly thereafter, Ace appears, and the...

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