All Shall Love Me and Despair Summary
by Jean Thompson

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All Shall Love Me and Despair Summary

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

A young couple leaves Chicago to begin life anew on the Oregon coast. The twenty-year-old man, whose real name is Edward but is called Scout, is hooked on drugs. He and his girlfriend, twenty-one-year-old Annie, head west. Scout, who in his twenty years has never seen the ocean, is ill during most of the trip, and Annie does all the driving.

On the trip, Scout exists on milk, milk shakes, and jelly doughnuts, but eating makes him nauseated. He frequently throws up, filling the car with the wretched, sour smell of vomit. At one point, Annie pulls into a service station and gets him to freshen up in the rest room. She considers leaving him there and continuing the trip herself, reasoning that someone would surely come along to help him. She thinks better of this, however, and they continue their journey.

Scout is experiencing withdrawal symptoms, which explains his illness. He certainly is hooked on drugs. Reading between the lines, one finds strong indications that Annie has persuaded him to leave Chicago to wean himself from the drugs on which he depends. When the story opens, the two have been in Oregon for two months, and Scout is shooting up. If his motive for moving was to rid himself of his addiction, his efforts have failed. Annie, afraid of drugs, does not join Scout in his illicit drug activities.

Annie does not consider herself pretty. She values Scout because he does not much care about people’s faces. When the two of them lived in Chicago, they frequently walked to Belmont Harbor on cold winter days and watched the boats bobbing about in the marina on Lake Michigan, a body of water Scout considers a fraud. Why sail on a lake that cannot take one anywhere? It is far more sensible to sail on an ocean, he argues.

Annie does not share Scout’s disdain for the lake, which she considers bottomless and shoreless. She will, however, not disagree openly with Scout, whom she considers the most intelligent person she knows. Rather, she makes small noises in her throat as her response when he rants on stupidly, rationalizing that even intelligent people sometimes say stupid things.

When Scout is high on drugs, he turns silent, giving the impression that he is contemplating profundities. At times like this, Annie sometimes is tempted to take drugs herself to keep from being lonely, but she never succumbs to this temptation. She thinks that Scout appreciates her abstinence, that he needs to have something to withhold from her. Yet she sometimes feels guilty about not sharing the drug experience with the man she loves.

(The entire section is 684 words.)