Examine the most important or striking details of the following passage of "To Room Nineteen" by Doris Lessing. Point out details of character and characterization, setting, conflict, style, and narrative point of view.

Susan did not tell Matthew of these thoughts. They were not sensible. She did not recognise herself in them. What should she say to her dear friend and husband, Matthew? "When I go into the garden, that is, if the children are not there, I feel as if there is an enemy there waiting to invade me." "What enemy, Susan darling?" "Well I don't know, really..." "Perhaps you should see a doctor?"


No, clearly this conversation should not take place. The holidays began and Susan welcomed them. Four children, lively, energetic, intelligent, demanding. She was never, not for a moment of her day, alone. If she was in room, they would be in the next room, or waiting for her to do something for them, or it would soon be time for lunch or tea, or to take one of them to the dentist, something to do five weeks of it thank goodness.

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In her short story “To Room Nineteen,” published in 1963, Doris Lessing describes the life of the main character, Susan Rawlings. Susan is very unhappy and feels that her life has lost its meaning and purpose now that her youngest child has started school.

The excerpt of the short story you have chosen could be seen as an indication about how unhappy Susan’s marriage is. Susan is married to Matthew, and to an outsider, it may seem as if they have the perfect family life: they seem to be a happy couple with four children, and they live in a very nice house.

However, earlier in the story, the readers find out that Matthew had an affair. While Susan has forgiven him, the passage you have chosen shows that there is still a significant emotional distance between Matthew and Susan.

This could be used as a possible starting point for a thesis: you could explore how this passage shows that Susan and Matthew’s relationship has not really recovered after Matthew’s affair. Susan is troubled by the fact that she struggles with being by herself. Usually, one would expect that she would speak to her husband about this, but Susan thinks that this conversation would be pointless. We can see this because Susan says that “clearly this conversation should not take place.” Susan feels that Matthew would not understand how she feels and instead would probably just recommend for her to go and “see a doctor.”

This passage clearly indicates to the reader that Susan finds refuge from her problems in the company of her children rather than in the company of her husband. This shows that her marriage is not as happy as one might have initially expected. Therefore, this also adds more weight to the underlying theme of the story, which is the unfulfilled life of Susan.

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