The Iceman Cometh

by: Eugene O'Neill

Larry Slade

The saloon's great "Foolosopher," Larry is a tall, raw-boned Irishman in his sixties who was once a Syndicalist-Anarchist. Having bitterly retired from the world, he presents himself as a man who has chosen to watch the carnage from the grandstand of philosophical detachment and eagerly awaits the end. This supposed withdrawal from the world is precisely his pipe dream, his pose of philosophical detachment concealing his fear of death and desperate hold on life. Parritt's demands that he pass judgment on his crimes will force his engagement with the world anew, an engagement that only increases his yearning for oblivion. Larry is the play's ironist, commenting sardonically on the group's tomorrow dreams and the deadly cruelty in the peace Hickey offers. Balking at this pose of detachment, Hickey will accuse Larry of suffering from a dangerous sense of pity. Indeed, as Willie notes, Larry is the kindest among the residents of Harry Hope's saloon, readily colluding in their pipe dreams to alleviate their suffering. Larry's functions appear inscribed on his face. As O'Neill notes, he has a "mystic's meditative pale-blue eyes with a gleam of sharp humor in them"; his look of "tired tolerance" gives his face the quality of a weary priest.