By Diana Brydon (auth.)
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Baruch answers: 'Woman escapes from the forest. It means, the middle-dass woman trying to free herself, and still impeded by romantic notions and ferocious, because ambushed, sensuality' (p. ISS). A little later, Catherine comes to a similar recognition: 'I've fought a11 my life for male objectives in men's terms. I am neither man nor woman, rieh nor poor, elegant nor worker, philistine nor FINDING A VOICE 41 artist. That's why I fight so hard and suffer so much and get nowhere' (p. 214). Her sense of self contradicts all the available definitions; there are no terms in which she can express what she is or what she wants.
Similarly, she casts male characters in traditionally female roles as a matter of course. In Far Love Alone, Teresa casts herself as the valiant knight courting Jonathan Crow, who assumes the position of the 'belle dame sans merci', withholding love from his ardent suitor. Similarly, Letty Fox moums her failure to keep her 'homme fatale', the elusively seductive Luke. Joan Lidoff argues that Stead adapts the motifs of the traditional 'female gothic' to shape them into an original subgenre Lidoff labels the 'domestic gothic'.
As her brother Michael puts it early in the novel: 'the maniac was merely too much awake' (p. 10). Catherine, Michael, Baruch and Kol are each in his or her own ways 'too much awake' for a somnolent society that depends for its hegemony on keeping people asleep. They each see beyond the commonly accepted proprieties, mouthed so threateningly or so pitifully by the novel's series of defeated, monster mothers and by Joseph before Baruch, with Winters' help, awakens him. Stead writes her fear of failure into each of their fates.