Examine the characters of Maude and Patsy in Moo by Sally Clark. How do they help shape the reader's attitude toward Harry and Moo?
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According to theater critic Russ Hunt, Sally Parker made these characters "repellent ... caricatures." In such a case, they do very little to add audience enlightenment into Moo's and Harry's characterizations. In such a case, the audience doesn't want to see them and they contribute little except movement to the structure of the play.
In Sally Clark's Moo, it is the characters of Maude and Patsy that allow the reader to see Moo for being unique in a world of one-dimensional women (including her own sisters). We also get a clearer insight into the kind of man Harry is: what he thinks he wants and how he reacts when he gets it. And he learns to see Moo differently.
Moo drives Harry crazy. As newlyweds, Harry tells Moo that when he's out, she should do what other women do. Moo is mystified. He explains:
Other women stay home while their husbands do their business. Can't you be like most women? Ask me if I have a nice day at the office, kiss me on the cheek and leave it at that.
What Harry thinks he wants is not to be challenged...to be left alone to do what he wants. Though he asks Moo to be like everyone else, Moo is not only unable to do so because she is unlike anyone else he knows, but Harry is left disgusted and feeling alone when he gets what he asks for from Maude and Patsy.
Marriage to Maude was a mistake. She talks aimlessly of unwelcomed topics: why Harry won't talk about Moo and why Moo was crazy. He realizes Maude is not as much interested in him as she is in Moo. In fact, she admits that in speaking of Moo, she thinks she may have fallen in love with Moo.
HARRY gets up and walks backwards out of the room, staring at MAUDE cautiously.
In their second scene together, Maude obsesses about her nose and wanting a nose job. Harry insists that her nose is fine, but Maude won't stop. She disagrees with and nages him, wondering if it would affect their love if she had it fixed. Finally, as he is hardly listening:
I think it's ugly. It's a blot upon my face. You know. A real blot.
Then she adds:
Have you always thought my nose was ugly?
HARRY gets up, walks over to MAUDE, picks her up and throws her down the stairs.
Obviously the typical housewife talk he told Moo he wanted didn't make him happy with Maude. With Patsy, it's not much better. Harry is older now. Perhaps he has mellowed with age, but life with Patsy has to make him feel empty. In the first scene of Act Two, Harry is around sixty. He is talking with his third wife, telling her that he was a real ladies' man at one time—a "heartbreaker."
Don't act so surprised. Yes, I was a cad.
For a year there, I was a bigamist...
You're a kidder, Harry.
I threw my second wife down the stairs.
You must have had a good reason, Harry.
In fact, for every lousy thing he has ever done to a previous wife, even putting Moo in an insane asylum, Patsy finds an empty response that excuses his behavior—more from a lack of intellect than for admiration's sake. When Harry wonders what's become of Moo, Patsy calmly suggests he send a Christmas card: she's completely serious. He doesn't life a finger, but says:
Did anyone ever put a bullet through your brain, Patsy?
You're a kidder, Harry.
What challenge or fire is there with these women? In scene twenty-three, Harry says of Moo:
I wish I didn't love her. I'd give my soul not to love her. I'm fed to the teeth with loving her.
And no matter where he goes, he can never leave Moo behind: hence the endless stream of postcards. After her death, Harry tells Patsy, and we can be certain he means it:
Patsy, life with you is a desert island.
Moo is dead. Before, life meant something when Moo was somewhere loving him—even when she made him crazy. His life now is an empty landscape.
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