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A Fair Maiden - Joyce Carol Oates Very engaging and well written. The subtle power plays that prove Katya's ultimate powerlessness are interesting to follow throughout. I'm not sure I entirely agree with Oates's strong anti-male (I won't exactly call it feminist, she seems to discuss the lack of control that a women has, but does not really propose any alternatives; her heroine is far from prototypical as a new "modern" feminist). In that vein, she has some great quotes: "A female is her body. A guy can be lots of things, not just his body."
"You can be on easy terms with such a man, you can see that he likes you, then by mistake you say the wrong word or make the wrong assumption and something shuts down."
"his gentlemanly good nature was possible only when he was obeyed in all things."
Certainly, Oates's point is that all males (and all females) are interchangeable (to some extent). She argues that men are all driven by sexual motives, and they all hold the power. I get her point, and I like the way she develops the theme, but I don't agree that you can generalize to quite this extent.

Another motif that I thought was well done was the daddy/grandpa need that Katya has and which Marcus Kidder fulfills. I loved the innocence that Katya displays by thinking her father is coming back; I loved that she needed Mr. Kidder to love her: she recognized that he was the only one who loved her, but simultaneously acknowledged that he has ulterior motives. I was just as surprised as Katya when she finds out that her dad is most likely dead.

Ultimately, Katya is portrayed very well on this threshold between girl and woman-hood. She wants to be sophisticated, she wants to be envyed, but most of all she wants to be loved: "For Katya wanted to be liked, there was this weakness in her: desperately she wanted to be liked, even by people she resented."