Name: Kaitlyn Fairchild
Book or Trilogy: Dark Visions
Special Abilities: Psychic, has premonitions through her drawings
Soul Mate or Love Interest: Gabriel Wolfe
Largest Defining Moment Before Book: Crayon drawing linked to murder, 9 years old.
Largest Defining Moment During Book: Leaving the group to go after Gabriel.
ďIn the opening chapter of the first Dark Visions book Kaitlyn is attempting to convince herself that she doesnít care about being invited to parties thrown by the other kids. Her establishment as a balanced character is immediately apparent since she appears as lonely but also wishes for a couple of the girls to die or have an accident. A purely good character would certainly not wish violence on anyone and a purely evil character would not be so easily relatable to in their loneliness. Immediately after this she begins to stress over her doodle of the spider web and the child. Sheís racking her brain to come up with ways to find and help the girl in trouble. Then sheís leaving the room, turning an icy gaze on Chris Barnable and referring to him as a jerk. The most immediate laying down of balance in a character that Iíve ever seen.Ē
The above is quoted from an essay that I wrote on LJS characters and in my mind is what makes Kaitlyn such a great character. If she were too perfect we would scoff. We might even be bored. The same goes if she were purely evil. Luckily, Kaitlyn fits right between the two. And despite my general view that LJS tries for balance, Iíll admit itís rare to find a character this realistic. I also admit to gleaning an odd pleasure in the scene where Frost is coming out of Gabrielís room and it makes Katilyn want to hit him ďwith a rolling pin, but not in an amusing, comic-book sort of way. In a way that would make splinters of bone fly and splatter the walls with blood.Ē Can you see it? Donít you just love it? All right. On to the analysis.
What makes Kaitlyn tick? Since Iím playing psychiatrist in this thing anyway, letís take that route. Weíll start with her childhood and what Dr. Phil would describe as a ďdefining momentĒ in her life. This was when she drew a picture at nine years old, a picture that illustrated the site of a dead body, a site that she wouldnít know about unless she was. . .psychic? Thatís my word. The people in Ohio give it a more dramatic word; they call it witchcraft.
Being labeled a witch isn't good for your social life. It causes Kaitlyn to be lacking in friendships that would not only cause her to feel more secure about herself but would advance the communication and social skills she'll need in life. Of course, she's also stubborn and that advances the problem. It makes her hold back, refrain from approaching people who might be nice if sheíd give them a chance. Think about it. Kaitlyn says, when listening to some other girls plan a party, that they wouldnít invite her because they wouldnít think sheíd want to go. Yet instead of telling someone she does want to go Kaitlyn tries to tell herself she doesnít care, that it doesnít matter.
Kaitlynís stubbornness is paired with a sense of loneliness she feels but wonít let on and with a distrust of people who so far have only let her down, such as when, in another defining moment, an unnamed boy took her out on her first date. When she dumped him told her he didnít really like her anyway and had no intention of forging a relationship, that she had always been just someone to spend time in the dark with. Loneliness, stubbornness and distrust are traits that Gabriel shares with Kaitlyn and one of the reasons for their understanding of each other later on.
Kaitlynís power: It's a gift or a curse depending upon how you look at it. Imagine the way ou'd feel if you drew pictures that doubled as predictions of future events, and they were almost always terrible events? The experience with the little girl in the car crash would be enough to make me detest this power. It does though help Kaitlyn later on and it gives her a better sense of intuition than most people, something she doesnít listen to mcuh in the beginning but later learns to depend on.
Kaitlyn has a general tendency to do the right thing, to help people and to stop destructive behaviors and activities from happening. This is what drives her to want to save the child, to get beneath Gabrielís exterior and make him feel better about Iris. Itís what prompts her to wonder and to try to find out whatís not right with the Institute. Itís what makes her share energy with Gabriel. And itís balanced by her sometimes violent temper.
Remember when Kaitlyn was banging Frosts head against the bathroom wall? How about when she started to strangle Lydia? Itís Kaitlynís temper that probably would have driven her and Rob apart even if she hadnít fallen for Gabriel. Itís also Kaitlynís temper and her dramatic expression of it that separates her from many of LJSís other heroines who fight mostly when their lives are in danger and not because theyíve lost control in a moment of anger.
Kaitlyn is a complex character. Instead of learning one lesson in Dark Visions, she learns many. She learns how to make friends and to be a friend. She learns to view her power as a gift instead of a curse. She discovers that she can't judge people immediately on first site but that she should get to know them first because they arenít always what they seem. A few examples of this are with Lydia, Gabriel and even Joyce. Kaitlyn learns to work with others. She begins to trust her intuition and to open herself up to a certain degree of vulnerability, something the psychic link forced her to do but which became helpful in the end. Kaitlyn also learnsto participate. Before she was independent in the sense that she didnít depend on others. She was also a loner who tried to stay out of most things. The events of the trilogy cause her to change, to become an active member in her own life and to take her independence to the level of actually doing things, of accomplishing things for herself and for others. One of the most defining moments that takes place during the book is when Kaitlyn leaves the other psychics to go after Gabriel. She had been longing for acceptance. Then she had it, and she took a chance on losing it. She went against the grain because she knew that she had to, that this was who she was. The truth is, if I had to choose what I consider to be the most complex and realistic LJS character around, and one that takes a few reads to truly appreciate, Iíd choose Kaitlyn Fairchild.
Dark Visions by LJ Smith
LJ Smith and the Concepts of Good and Evil in Characters by Katherine Clay
Reflections on LJ Smith