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Critic Steven J. Rubin notes that Malamud, in his novels, creates female characters who "are often presented as either saviors or destroyers. Nowhere is this more evident than in The Natural. It is Roy Hobbs's fate, however, not to be able to distinguish between the two." If Memo Paris is the vacuum that sucks away Roy's energy, Iris Lemon is the life-giving force that lends him strength. Even her name evokes both her conception as a vegetative goddess and a fruitful, energy-giving force. Simply by standing up and revealing herself to Roy, she is able to revitalize his strength. Iris has so much life and fertility in her that, at age thirty-three, she is already a grandmother. But she is still young; Roy notes that she is "a girl above the waist and a woman below." At one point, seeing the red-haired Memo in a black mourning dress, Roy wonders what it would look like if the colors were switched—black hair in a red dress. This is Iris Lemon—Memo's exact opposite. But it is indeed Roy's tragic fate to misunderstand which woman he should pursue—at least until it is too late to save his baseball career and, thus, to use his natural gifts.