The Mother of the Child In Question is one of the short story collections in Doris Lessing’s book “The Real Thing: Stories and Sketches” which is the first new work of fiction from her since her highly acclaimed novel, The Fifth Child. The stories and sketches in this collection penetrate to the heart of human experience with the passion and intelligence readers have come to expect of.
Most of the pieces are set in contemporary London, a city the author loves for its variety, its populations from everywhere in the world, its transitoriness, the way it connects the life of animals and birds in the parks to streets so old they have forgotten they ever had anything to do with nature.
Lessing’s fiction often explores the darker corners of relationships between women and men, illuminating the courage and resilience of women in particular. “The Real Thing,” the rich and emotionally complex title story of the collection, uncovers a more parlous reality behind the facade of the most conventional relationships.
Source: http://www. dorislessing. org/index. html Author’s Biography Doris Lessing is a British novelist, poet, playwright, librettist, biographer and short story writer. She was awarded Nobel Prize in Literature in the year 2007. Swedish Academy described her as “that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny”. Lessing was the eleventh woman and the oldest person to ever receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Lessing was born Doris May Tayler in Iran, then known as Persia, on 22 October 1919, to Captain Alfred Tayler and Emily Maude Tayler (née McVeagh), who were both English and of British nationality. She was educated at the Dominican Convent High School, a Roman Catholic convent all-girls school in Salisbury. She left school at the age of 14, and was self-educated from there on; she left home at 15 and worked as a nursemaid. She started reading material that her employer gave her, on politics and sociology and began writing around this time.
In the 1937 Lessing moved to Salisbury to work as a telephone operator, and she soon married her first husband, Frank Wisdom, with whom she had two children before the marriage ended in 1943. Following her first divorce, Lessing’s interest was drawn to the popular community of the Left Book Club, a communist book club which she had joined the year before. It was here that she met her future second husband, Gottfried Lessing. They were married shortly after she joined the group, and had a child together before the marriage failed and ended in divorce in 1949.
After these two failed marriages, she has not been married since. Later on Gottfried Lessing became the East German ambassador to Uganda, and was murdered in the 1979 rebellion against Idi Amin Dada. When she fled to London to pursue her writing career and communist beliefs, she left two toddlers with their father in South Africa (another, from her second marriage, went with her). She later said that at the time she thought she had no choice: “For a long time I felt I had done a very brave thing. There is nothing more boring for an intelligent woman than to spend endless amounts of time with small children.
I felt I wasn’t the best person to bring them up. I would have ended up an alcoholic or a frustrated intellectual like my mother. ” Due to her campaigning against nuclear arms and South African apartheid, Lessing was banned from that country and from Rhodesia for many years. She moved to London with her youngest son in 1949 and her first novel. In 1984, Doris Lessing attempted to publish two novels under a pseudonym, Jane Somers, to show the difficulty new authors faced in trying to have their works in print.
The novels were declined by Lessing’s UK publisher, but was later accepted by another English publisher, Michael Joseph, and in the US by Alfred A. Knopf. Lessing’s fiction is commonly divided into three distinct phases: the Communist theme, the psychological theme, and after that the Sufi theme, which was explored in her science fiction novels and novellas. Summary of the Story Stephen Bentley, a social worker, walks his way to the Khan’s Residence on the eight floor of a building where he observes everything that comes along his way.
The house where it is located, the cement everywhere he looked, the dirt of the building and the awful smell, the person crossing the street, until he reached the door number 15. He rang the door and a young twelve years old boy welcomed him with a smile, his name is Hassan. As he entered the room he notices the tidiness of the family room which he finds it peculiar. It is said to be that he is expected. Plot Structure Exposition: * Setting The story takes place at the Khan’s residence in England. The Khan family lives in what appears to be a ghetto in England, poor block buildings with many apartments as described in the story. Characterization * Stephen Bentley The social worker assigned in the case of the Khan family. His goal is to get Shireen into a special school for mentally challenged kids. * Hassan Khan A young twelve year old boy who welcomes Stephen Bently and serves to be the interpreter and representative of his father since his father didn’t show up on the meeting. He shows to represent the culture of a Pakistani national which they practice at home. * Mrs. Khan The mother of the child in question and she turns out to speak very little or poor English, but she is a proud and stubborn woman.
She represents as a typical mother who takes the stand for the love of her child. She wanted a normal life for her daughter Shireen and send her in the big school just like her elder brothers and sisters. * Shireen She is “the child in question” in the story and the youngest daughter of the Khan’s and she is said to be mentally challenged. Rising Action The time when Stephen Bently is seated right next to the mother and Hassan that serves to the interpreter and representative of his father as he is the only boy in the family.
It is in their culture that the man next in line would take the responsibility of the father if the father is not around. Bently conducted the interview and talked about the purpose of the visit and is to let Mrs. Khan agree on sending Shireen in the school for mentally challenge kids. Climax The time when Stephen Bently fails to let Mrs. Khan agrees to send Shireen in the special school and let another social worker to do the job leaving it the same inputs as the previous report. Falling Action Stephen Bently left the house of the Khan’s with the picture of Mrs.
Khan in his mind as a proud, cold, and has a refusing look. He thinks deeply, anticipating his daily dealings with his so called “a rich and various lunacy inspired the human race” with takes a greater part of his job. Denouement Stephen Bently realizes and was move by how the mother and the rest of the family treated Shireen-the child in question. He could have done something wrong if he pushes his goal towards what is good for the child’s welfare. Conflict * Man vs Man The clashing between Stephen Bently and Mrs.
Khan wherein will Stephen Bently let Mrs. Khan agree to let Shireen send to a special school. Theme * A Mother’s unconditional love towards her child. Point of View * Omniscient Limited Title * The Mother of the Child in Question Simply the title speaks for the mother in the story who takes her stand and fights for the welfare of her daughter despite of her daughter’s mental capability is questionable and no matter what it takes she would never let anyone to interfere the right of her child to live a normal life just like the others.
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