While the explosive emotions between Eddie and May dominate the stage, the past, represented in the character of the Old Man, is thematically at the center of the play. He not only set the trap that led to the incest between Eddie and May but also the pattern which is to dominate both their lives. On the most superficial level, the Old Man is typical of the American masculine ego that cannot allow its autonomy and mobility to be compromised by a woman and the confinements of domestic responsibility. His situation is complicated but not changed by his infidelity. He fell in love twice, once with Eddie’s mother, once with May’s mother, but “it was the same love. Just split in two, that’s all.” He tells May’s mother that he would “never come across for her.” Yet she was “a force,” drawing him in. Like Eddie’s incestuous connection to May, the Old Man’s adulterous love is irresistibly and irrevocably fated.
If May’s mother was a force for him, he was no less a force for her. By searching him out, she had crossed “a forbidden zone, but she couldn’t help herself.” She forces a crisis, and the Old Man, unable to resolve the conflict between his licit and illicit love, reverts to that which he knows best, escape and rationalization: “Good thing I got out when I did. Best thing I ever did.”
When May tells Eddie, “You do nothing but repeat yourself,” clearly he repeats not only himself but also his father’s...
(The entire section is 420 words.)