The Iceman Cometh

by: Eugene O'Neill

Don Parritt

Characters Don Parritt

Parritt is a gangly, awkward eighteen-year-old. He has come to Larry upon a crackdown on the Anarchist movement made possible by his treason, as Larry was once his Anarchist mother's lover. Though good-looking, Parritt has an unpleasant personality, showing a "shifting defiance and ingratiation" in his eyes and an "irritating aggressiveness" in his manner. Parritt's development involves the progressive confession of his betrayal and its motivating force, a long-nursed hate for his mother. In bearing a hate inadmissible to his conscious, he serves as Hickey's double.

Certainly Parritt hates his mother for her commitment to the Movement at the expense of himself. As he frequently sneers, she probably thought she was the Movement, making his betrayal of the conspirators a crime against her. Much of this hatred also appears to lie in his fantasy of mother as whore—as he tells Larry, life with such a "free woman" made his childhood home a brothel. Such anxiety over the woman as whore appears throughout the play. Larry leaves Parritt's mother, for example, because of her promiscuity; Pearl and Margie are sensitive to the epithet. It is easy to postulate an Oedipal desire behind Parritt's spite, the mother who potentially belongs to others becoming, in the eyes of the envious son, a debauched prostitute.

Wracked by guilt over his betrayal of his mother, he will beg for Larry's judgment throughout the play. The demystification of his delusions about his hate leads him to a necessary death. Within the Last Supper tableau of Harry Hope's birthday party, Parritt thus appears as a Judas-figure. Like Judas, he will suicidally submit to a death sentence as his punishment.