Pascale Antolin writes about Deadly Girls’ Voices in the latest article from Bearing Witness: Joyce Carol Oates Studies.
This article focuses on deadly girls’ voices in “The Banshee” and “Doll: A Romance of the Mississippi,” two short stories taken from Joyce Carol Oates’s collection The Female of the Species, subtitled Tales of Mystery and Suspense. It shows that children are used as leading and focal characters not only to increase suspense but also to manipulate the readers’ traditional sets of ethical, semantic and literary references. Oates resorts to her favourite “aesthetics of fear” for it is a powerful means of putting horror and abjection at a distance, and it is associated with the question of meaning—”meaning is what we fear most of losing,” she says. Thus she involves her readers in complex interpretations of her hybrid tales—one drawing from the Gothic, the other from the grotesque—and thereby leads them to a better understanding of themselves and their humanity.