To Room Nineteen Questions and Answers
by Doris Lessing

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Identify the author and the story from which the passage comes. Examine the most important or striking details of the passage itself. Depending on the passage, point out details on character and characterization, setting, conflict, style, and narrative point of view. Include a clear thesis statement that explains the importance of the passage in terms of the rest of the story. Depending on the passage, show how it contributes to theme, to character, to conflict, or to setting: "They were older when they married than most of their married friends; in their well-seasoned late twenties. Both had had a number of affairs, sweet rather than bitter; and when they fell in love—for they did fall in love—had known each other for some time. They joked that they had saved each other “for the real thing.” That they had waited so long (but not too long) for this real thing was to them a proof of their sensible discrimination. A good many of their friends had married young, and now (they felt) probably regretted lost opportunities; while others, still unmarried, seemed to them arid, self-doubting, and likely to make desperate or romantic marriages."

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This passage is from the short story "To Room Nineteen" by Doris Lessing. It is important to note that this passage comes at the very beginning of the story. There is only one line before it:

This is a story, I suppose, about a failure in intelligence: The Rawlingses' marriage was grounded in intelligence.

Lessing has not yet given the first names of Matthew and Susan. All we know is that they are married and intelligent.

The passage focuses on their marriage. The only pronoun used is "they," not "he" or "she." Lessing is establishing the characters as a unified...

(The entire section contains 305 words.)

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