Places: Fool for Love

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1983

First produced: 1983, at the Magic Theater, San Francisco

Type of work: Drama

Type of plot: Hyperrealism

Time of work: Late twentieth century

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*Mojave Desert

*Mojave Fool for LoveDesert (moh-HAHV-ee). Southern California desert that is a defining image of the American West. It is a vast and dangerous place that one must travel through, just as May and her half-brother Eddie navigate through their troubled relationship. The desert creates a forbidding atmosphere as it imposes its vastness around the shabby motel.


Motel. Located on the edge of the Mojave Desert, this dingy, unnamed motel is the home of May. For playwright Sam Shepard, the motel room symbolizes the loneliness and romance of the American Highway. It is a place to rest and replenish as one travels through the vast wilderness of relationships. May originally comes to the motel to escape Eddie and their incestuous love affair. However, the motel offers little comfort. Although Eddie has driven more than two thousand miles to find May, the transient nature of the motel room setting and the open road that lies outside foreshadows his inevitable abandonment of May. It also parallels their father’s constant traveling from household to household, woman to woman, eventually abandoning Eddie’s mother, who commits suicide. Not a destination in and of itself, the motel room reflects the idea that the real action in May and Eddie’s lives occurs in their traveling from place to place.


*Wyoming. Rocky Mountain state in which Eddie promises to make a home for May. He has plans to move their trailer to a ranch there. The theme of the American West is displayed as May rejects Eddie’s offer just as she rejects his “Marlboro” man lifestyle as a rodeo cowboy and stuntman. Nevertheless, Eddie dreams of the cowboy life as he cleans his gun, dons metal spurs, and coils his lassos performing rope tricks to entice May.

BibliographyAuerback, Doris. Sam Shepard, Arthur Kopit, and the Off Broadway Theater, 1982.Bank, Rosemarie. “Self as Other: Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love and A Lie of the Mind.” In Feminist Rereadings of Modern American Drama, edited by June Schlueter. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1989.Bigsby, C.W.E. A Critical Introduction to Twentieth-Century American Drama. Vol. 3, Beyond Broadway, 1985.Hart, Lynda. Sam Shepard’s Metaphorical Stages. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1987. In the section of her book about Shepard’s brand of realism, “Realism Revisited,” Hart devotes several pages of discussion to the staging of Fool for Love.Londre, Felicia Hardison. “A Motel of the Mind: Fool for Love and A Lie of the Mind.” In Rereading Shepard, edited by Leonard Wilcox. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993. An interesting discussion of motels as metaphors for states of mind and heart in Shepard’s plays.Marlowe, Joan, and Betty Blake, eds. New York Theatre Critics’ Reviews 44, no. 19 (1983): 212-216. Six reviews from New York papers. Gives a wide range of interpretive opinions about the original Shepard-directed production.Marranca, Bonnie, ed. American Dreams: The Imagination of Sam Shepard, 1981.Mottram, Ron. Inner Landscapes: The Theater of Sam Shepard. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1984.Oumano, Ellen. Sam Shepard: The Life and Work of an American Dreamer, 1986.Tucker, Martin. Sam Shepard. Literature and Life: American Writers. New York: Continuum Press, 1992. Contains an interesting discussion of Fool for Love that speculates about possible autobiographical links to the romantic and family dynamics explored in the play.Wetzsetson, Ross. Introduction to Fool for Love and Other Plays by Sam Shepard. New York: Bantam Books, 1984. An insightful and readable description of Shepard’s dramatic sensibility, with special attention to Fool for Love.Wilcox, Leonard, ed. Rereading Shepard: Contemporary Critical Essays. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993.
Categories: Places