Joan MacLeod's Hope Slide And Little Sister
Joan MacLeod presents the men in " The Hope Slide" and in " Little Sister" in two very different ways. The men in ' The Hope Slide' are kept at a distance and presented as heroes. The reader is left to make a judgment on their character based on Irene's biased opinion, when in reality they could be the opposite of what she describes. The men in " Little Sister", on the other hand, are a major part of the play. They are most certainly not presented as heroes, but rather as humans with problems and complicated personalities. Joan MacLeod seems to be suggesting that some people, men in particular, can seem like heroes when observed from a distance, but when they are examined more closely, they are no different than any one else. The first male voice to appear in " The Hope Slide" is that of Harry Kootnikoff. He is only seventeen, just a boy, but he is already consumed by the lifestyle in which he has grown up. Most boys don't even dream of using bombs, but Harry has used them since he was ten. Irene looks at him as a hero because he was killed while 'protecting his way of life' whereas most people would see him as a delinquent who got what he deserved for playing with bombs. This contrast of hero/villain occurs because he is presented for such a short time from only one point of view. If his character was examined more closely, some of his flaws would be exposed to Irene and she would not think of him as highly as she does. Similarly, from the other point of view, some of his troubles and the reasons why he is acting in this way would be exposed causing the 'general public' to look on him with more compassion than hate. The second male voice that is presented in " The Hope Slide" is very similar to the first. Paul Podmorrow is a twenty-two year old Doukhobor man who is on a hunger strike in prison. Once again, we can gain very little insight into his character, we don't even know why he is in prison, but Irene still sees him as a hero who died for a greater cause. The other side of this situation is that he could be completely insane and in prison for murder or another serious crime. He could be on a hunger strike for attention or another ulterior motive. He may not be the hero that Irene so much wants to believe. When Jay is first presented in " Little Sister" he gives the impression of a loser who uses women to get what he wants. In other words, without a close inspection, Jay can be perceived as a villain. Jordan, on the other hand, first appears to be kind, generous, and sensitive. He appears to be a hero at first. As the play progresses and the reader gains further insight to their characters, they both begin to drift from their initial opposite extremes towards the average Joe in the middle. For example, Jay shows that he can be sensitive when he goes to see Katie in the hospital every day despite her lack of interest. He also shows that he can be compassionate when he finally tells Tracey how he feels. These are just a few examples of occurrences where the reader's judgment of Jay is softened throughout the play. Jordan, who started on the other extreme does some things that tarnish his image. For example, when Jay is upset about Katie not wanting to see him, he tells Jay that he is going to see her. He is jealous of Jay's flashiness and wants to be looked at differently by women. In the end, both of these characters are neither heroes nor villains; they are just average guys. Both of the Doukhobor characters are under- developed and play a minor role in " The Hope Slide". As a result, we cannot base a conclusion about their character solely on Irene's opinion, who is a less than admirable judge of character. They can either be viewed as heroes who died for a greater cause or as villains who put the general public at risk and deserved what they got. In " Little Sister", the male characters are examined in depth and the reader is able to judge them based on their actions as presented in an unbiased way. This reveals that they are less than perfect, and the two sides in the previous argument meet somewhere in the middle. They are not heroes by a long shot, but at the same time they are equally as far away from being villains.