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

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. 

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