In Moo by Sally Clark, do all the Moo's scenes in the nursing home in Act Two present the portrait of a woman merely "pathetic" (as Susan ultimately asserts), or is our impression of Moo finally greater than the sum of its parts?
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Perhaps the scenes in the nursing home in Act Two of Sally Clark's Moo are the most touching—allowing the audience to finally understand Moo: to see her undiminished inner-fire and recognize that Harry loved Moo despite everything—all she ever wanted.
Leave it to Susan to see Moo as pathetic—Moo's family has always been pitiful, and the town she grew up in made Moo who she is. Moo's family members are self-centered, dim-witted, shallow, out of touch with reality, and/or dysfunctional. The fact that Moo finds something (or someone) that she is willing to chase across the world and the years shows her determination.
When the family finds that George (the only son) has died in the war, Moo's mother wonders if he had a vision of his death; her father invites Harry (who they know nothing about) to stay. But no one cries. This is really quite odd, especially in that Moo indicates that George was to be admired. She says to Sarah:
When George gets back you'll see what a bore Charlie is.
I find Susan to be the really pathetic one. When she was young, she adored Moo because she didn't parent her. She wished that Moo was her mother because Moo didn't follow the rules or push them on Susan. Moo saw Susan as a person. But as an adult Susan is self-centered—visiting Moo in the home, she "grabs and shakes her," demanding news of a son Moo does not remember—though Jane told Susan that losing Dougall broke Moo's heart. Susan doesn't care. She swears at Moo, and says:
I'm not going to wind up like you.
Susan couldn't if she tried: she's as shallow as the rest of the family.
Many of Moo's problems are rooted in her family's dysfunction; and her choices have not always been the best. But she has always had spirit. We glimpse it when she meets Harry and sees him handle a gun.
You just keep hitting [the tin can] so it stays up there. (throws the can up, shoots, keeps the can up for a long time)
MOO stares, dumbfounded. HARRY stops, hands rifle back to her...Moo stares after him. She throws the can up, tries to shoot it, misses. She stares back after HARRY.
Perhaps it is that Harry is so different than her family that draws Moo. "He was a very good shot"—another reason to admire him. And the fact that he is hard to get may appeal to Moo as well.
I knew the moment I laid eyes on Harry Parker that he was mine. I wanted him and nothing was going to stop me from getting him.
It is unfortunate that Harry is such a scoundrel—a rotter. He is not interested in settling down. Moo and Harry run off and marry, but Harry tires of being tied down. He commits Moo to an insane asylum for five years; he cheats on her; he marries again twice. And he sends taunting postcards to her from all over the globe. However, Moo never gives up on him.
In the nursing home at the end, Moo is almost completely senile—but, she is still a fighter. She refuses to give up her lighter to the nurses—this is symbolic of her love for Harry:
I held it and I wouldn't let go.
She remembers little else, but when Harry finds her there by accident, she has not forgotten him:
Do you have a postcard for me, Harry?
Harry and Moo have always been connected, even when raging at each other. Harry never broke Moo as Susan claims. Life happened and Moo lived as she chose. Moo is still strong and determined. She dies on her terms, with Harry there. And if life has had an impact on her, she has left her own impression on the world as well. She is not pathetic.
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