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Themes and Characters

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Fade focuses primarily on one generation of the Moreaux family but actually reveals three generations: Paul Moreaux, a thirteen-year-old boy who inherits his uncle Adelard's ability to fade, and Ozzie Slater, the son of Paul's sister Rose, who is almost thirteen at the time Paul and Ozzie meet. Paul is a sensitive, perceptive boy with strong family loyalty and a troubling conscience; he is especially protective of his younger brother, Bernard, and sympathetic toward, and simultaneously attracted to, his aunt Rosanna, who seems to be the black sheep of the family. He is never suspected of being a murderer because murder is out of character for him. On the other hand, Ozzie, a shy and reclusive boy, has been neglected by his adoptive mother, an alcoholic, and severely abused by his stepfather, who beat him unmercifully on numerous occasions. No one knows him well; he has no outlet for his pain and suffering except through violence. Ultimately, he becomes the victim of a commanding "inner voice" that urges him to perform violent acts against his will, even urging him to kill Sister Anunciata, the nun in the Sisters of Mercy order who befriends him, feeds him, and gives him his own room in the convent.

In a sense, Fade is a story-within-a-story. Susan Roget, who reads the Moreaux manuscript, wonders just as agent Meredith Martin and the reader do, if Paul Roget, the author who describes the faders in the Moreaux family, is actually describing his own experiences. Susan is a talented young woman gifted with writing ability as well as some clever ideas, such as how she obtains her summer job as Meredith Martin's assistant. She represents normality; the reader respects her views, and Meredith Martin's, about the impossibility or the possibility of the fade.

Adelard Moreaux, probably the most fully drawn character of the Moreaux family besides Paul and Aunt Rosanna, informs both Paul and the reader about the fade. Paul learns from his uncle and hopes to prepare his nephew Ozzie as Adelard prepared him, but that does not happen. Adelard chooses to avoid possible problems when the fade comes over him by leading a solitary life of constant travel, never settling down, in contrast to Paul, who never marries either, but who does settle in Monument as a recluse. Adelard befriends Paul, and Paul respects him.

Cormier traditionally deals with themes of maturation, alienation, power, and betrayal. In Fade two young boys mature: Paul Moreaux and Ozzie Slater, although Ozzie's life is ended before much maturation can take place. Paul matures into a sensible, responsible adult in the course of the novel, particularly if one concludes that Paul Moreaux is actually writer Paul Roget. Cormier's characters are often engaged in power struggles, both internal and external. Moreaux must struggle internally to handle his feelings for his aunt Rosanna; to recognize evil and accept responsibility for having spied on Mr. Dondier and Theresa as well as Emerson and Page Winslow; to deal with his guilt over the death of his young brother Bernard; to accept his alienation from others; and most importantly, to overcome the curse of the fade. He must deal with external conflicts against members of the Ku Klux Klan, the bully Omer LaBatt, and the power-hungry Rudolphe Toubert, and ultimately, the next generation fader, Ozzie Slater.

Political themes play a minor part in this novel when Paul, a friend, and the friend's older brother witness a meeting of the Ku Klux Klan in the woods by Moccasin Pond outside Monument. The Klan, long associated with the South, is prejudiced against blacks, Roman Catholics, and Jews. Paul also feels the brunt...

(The entire section is 915 words.)