To Room Nineteen Questions and Answers
by Doris Lessing

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How do the physical and social settings in the story "To Room Nineteen" by Doris Lessing contribute to the overall meaning of the story?

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Brayan Effertz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The physical and social settings of this story can be taken as symbolic of the main character, Susan Rawlings. The story deals with her mental and emotional conflicts as she struggles to find her identity in modern society, navigating conventional social roles as wife and mother while also endeavoring to assert her independence and achieve self-realization.

The two main settings are the Rawlings' suburban family home and the hotel room (the room nineteen of the title) to which Susan periodically escapes. They are vividly contrasted: the family home is expensive, expansive, busy, and comfortable, while room nineteen is small, cramped, and squalid—to all outward appearances, quite depressing. Yet it is in this room, and this room only, where Susan can feel at ease, where there is no one else there, and no one knows her.

She was free. She sat in the armchair, she simply sat, she closed her eyes and sat and let herself be alone.

Room nineteen becomes Susan's refuge from what she feels are...

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