McKinley: Re: Deerskin: Rewritings of fairytales

From: <>
Date: Fri May 29 1998 - 13:45:47 PDT

Karen Chan wrote:

>What I want to know is whether there was any real "healing" in "Deerskin".
>I mean, at the end there was this sense of... almost... unfulfilment. It
>was like she had been violated so badly that it could neve be repaired -
>not even by the prince (whose name I've forgotten) who normally symbolises
>harmony - the happily-ever-after marriage thing symbolising the restoration
>of paradise.

I think there is real healing in _Deerskin_, if just in the simple fact that
she can trust and love someone -- especially a man -- after what happened to
her. She has suffered so much that the rest she finds with Ossin is
fulfillment. She tells him "I am not whole, and I cannot promise to stay,"
and he answers "There is none of us who can make that promise -- if you
cannot run so far, we will run less far together." Her acceptance of that
companionship signifies major healing, so far as I'm concerned.

>I was wondering if McKinley was being realistic by writing
>that kind of ending - like she doesn't believe that happy endings are as
>neat as they seem, and that the events that Deerskin goes through will take
>years to heal, rather than a few simple moments when she and the prince are
>united. I guess it was unsatisfying because it did not follow the formula,
>but at the same time I think it is a good thing because she points out the
>unrealistic aspect of fairytales.

I find the ending of "Deerskin" deeply satisfying precisely because of the
reason you identify: that things take years and not moments to heal. If
Robin had done the opposite (meaning Lissar steps into Ossin's arms and bam,
everything's rosy), it would have been *less* satisfying because it wouldn't
have been true, and thus not in keeping with the rest of the book. You're
right, it is a more "realistic" and not "fairy tale" ending, but I don't
think it was meant as a critique of fairy tales -- more as an expansion of
the "happily ever after" to show a different kind of "happy."

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Received on Fri May 29 20:47:21 1998

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