In this tale of longing, disillusionment, and gunplay, Alan Squier, a down-on-his luck writer on his way from "nowhere to nowhere," takes respite from his wanderings in a dilapidated diner at the edge of the Arizona desert. There he finds a kindred spirit in the waitress, Gabby, a fellow dreamer who yearns for the artistic life. When a fugitive killer, Mantee, over-runs the diner and holds its inhabitants hostage, each comes to bare their souls, questioning the value of their lives and dreams.
Written in 1935 at the height of the depression, The Petrified Forest pits idealism against pragmatism -- guts and guns against romanticism and diplomacy -- in a powerful exploration of what it means to fight for personal identity. In the end, both artist and desperado discover themselves to be equally captive to their own failures in a society in which they find themselves increasingly obsolete.