Penelope's Reviews > A Fair Maiden

A Fair Maiden by Joyce Carol Oates
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Oct 14, 10

bookshelves: fall-10
Read from October 05 to 14, 2010

An intriguing story, although sometimes pretty horrific. I found Katya kind of perplexing at times...but I guess that's how teenagers are anyway. I thought she was an interesting character although I'm not sure I felt much sympathy for her. I felt more sympathy for Mr. Kidder, until it was revealed that he was also somewhat sinister and manipulative himself. Both were pitiful in their own ways and constantly battled for control while hiding their own vulnerability...I found the power-play throughout the story quite interesting. Oates does a fantastic job of creating dynamic interactions between characters and revealing the artifice in human relations. It's not all gloom and doom and cynicism, though; I also feel that she highlights those moments of authentic emotion between people, although sometimes those moments are overshadowed by the bleak implications of the story as a whole.

I thought the ending was unsatisfying--Roy simply disappears and we're left to draw our own conclusions about how the events of the story have changed Kayta. I can't help but think that she's worse off in just about every way. Perhaps it was Oates' intention to thwart the fairy tale ending we're yearning for--even if it DOES recreate the ending from the tale mentioned within the novel. It adds a nihilistic, morbid dimension to what exactly a fairy tale ending can or should be...
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