Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 654
The Old Man
The Old Man, who may or may not be the ne’er-do-well father of Eddie and May by different mothers. Of indeterminate age, he is not a living character and exists only in the minds of Eddie and May, who communicate directly with him at their discretion. The Old Man, dressed in Western clothing, complete with Stetson hat, sits in a rocking chair throughout the play and sips whiskey that he pours from a bottle into a Styrofoam cup. He claims to be married to country singer Barbara Mandrell and stares at what he says is her picture on an empty wall in the rundown motel where all the action takes place. The patriarch does not seem to like his children very much; he says of them, “I don’t recognize myself in either one a’ you. . . . You could be anybody’s. Probably are.” He is a specterlike figure, a kind of perverse Greek chorus who argues with Eddie and May until the end, when they leave and he is left alone, staring at the empty wall. It is possible that he is the only real individual and has invented the whole episode, with the other characters being figments of his imagination.
Eddie, an ornery rodeo stuntman in his late thirties. He is dressed in his working clothes, and his smell indicates his need of a bath. The cowboy is the former lover and half brother of May. Eddie is obsessed with May. To find her, he has traveled 2,480 miles with his pickup truck and horse trailer. For fifteen years, he has had an intense love-hate relationship with May, usually breaking it off because he is always chasing someone new. Women seem to find him attractive and irresistible. A mysterious and unseen lady known as “the Countess,” said by May to be his latest conquest and her reason for leaving him, arrives in a Mercedes Benz and waits for Eddie outside the motel. Eddie has bought some property in Wyoming and has come to take May there. He is a violently self-centered man who is obsessed with pursuing May for himself. Eddie wins May back at the end but then inexplicably leaves her for the enigmatic Countess.
May, the attractive half sister and former lover of Eddie. She is in her early thirties and has had a turbulent fifteen-year relationship with Eddie. Tired of his continual infidelities, particularly with the wealthy Countess, she apparently has left him for good and now lives in a dingy motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert. May works as a short-order cook and is putting her shattered life together. When Eddie unexpectedly shows up, May is both pleased and disgusted by his sudden intrusion and his passionate pursuit, but she cannot forget their stormy emotional past or their mutual attraction and revulsion. She knows they are inextricably bound together, but she has no illusions about Eddie, or about the Old Man. Her outburst at Eddie’s drunken lies to Martin about their relationship forces her version of the truth to be revealed and precipitates Eddie’s exit, a departure that she knows will be final.
Martin, an easygoing, solidly built maintenance man in his early thirties. A native of the area, he arrives at the motel to pick up May for their first date. Thinking that May is in trouble when he hears screams, Martin makes a dramatic entrance by kicking open the door and tackling Eddie to the ground. Martin is interested in developing a relationship with May. He is a simple, amiable individual who is puzzled by the contradictions between the stories told by May and by Eddie. He remains a largely uninteresting and undeveloped character, but his presence delineates the incestuous bond between Eddie and May. Martin remains confused by all that occurs from the moment he arrives until the end, when he watches May leave the motel.
Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 596
Eddie is a cowboy-type in his late thirties. He is the older half-brother of May, with whom he has had an on-again/off-again love affair for fifteen years. Eddie is a liar and unreliable. He has appeared out of nowhere, claiming to have traveled several thousand miles to see May. From the first, May accuses him of having an affair with a rich woman, which Eddie denies. Throughout the course of Fool for Love, May’s suspicions prove correct as the rich woman shoots out Eddie’s windshield, sets fire to his truck, and frees his horses. Eddie also promises to not tell Martin, a man with whom May has a date, that they are brother and sister, but Eddie does anyway. He also tells Martin about his odd relationship with his half-sister. Eddie also has a violent streak, and threatens May physically several times. He tries to control May physically and emotionally, but she does not give in. May allows Eddie to pull her down at one point, but she ultimately rises above his pettiness. Though Eddie claims to want May throughout the play, at the end, he leaves without her.
Martin is May’s date for the evening. He works as a gardener and day laborer. When he first arrives, May’s room is dark and she is screaming. Martin takes action, pulling Eddie off May and slamming him against the wall. When May tells Martin that Eddie is her cousin and there was nothing wrong, Martin apologizes. May has already described him as ‘‘gentle’’ and he lives up to this description. Martin does not display much shock when Eddie and May reveal the nature of their relationship. After Eddie leaves, Martin offers to help May, but she refuses.
May is the younger half-sister of Eddie. She is in her early thirties. May lives in the motel room where all the action of Fool for Love takes place. She has recently gotten a job as a cook. May has been getting on with her life after putting up with Eddie loving and leaving her for fifteen years. Eddie’s return upsets May. She claims to smell another woman, a rich woman, on his fingers, and she is right. When May tells Eddie that she has a date that night, Eddie becomes jealous and finds it hard to believe. He cannot accept that May might have been with another man and has her own life. May has not fully accepted it either. She has mixed feelings about Eddie and knows the trouble he can cause. When her date arrives, Eddie sabotages May’s relationship with Martin by telling him that he and May are lovers as well as half-siblings. After Eddie leaves at the end, Martin asks May if she is going with him, but May knows Eddie and his habits too well. The half-siblings go their separate ways.
The Old Man
The Old Man is Eddie and May’s father. Like Eddie, he dresses in cowboy gear. While he appears as a character on stage, the old man is actually a figment of their imaginations. During the play, the Old Man listens to the discussion between Eddie and May, occasionally commenting on what has been said. He becomes troubled when Eddie and May start talking about their affair and how the Old Man had two separate lives with their mothers. When May reveals that her mother committed suicide, the Old Man is surprised at the revelation. The Old Man only finds comfort in his imagined marriage with country singer Barbara Mandrell.