What is the identity of women shown in "Debbie and Julie?"

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One part of the identity of women that is seen in Lessing's story is a sense of resiliency.  Toughness is part of a women's identity.  The conditions that Lessing details in the narrative reflect how toughness and strength are undeniable parts of a woman's identity.  Julie's identity is forged by this sense of toughness.  She delivers a baby, on her own, makes sure its needs are tended to, takes care of a stray dog, and goes back to her parents' home without letting them in on the traumatic experience she has endured.  The ending is one in which Julie recognizes that she can do just about anything, given what she has done.  Debbie is also seen as tough, in terms of how she is able to live her life as a prostitute and still offer care for Julie in her condition. The identity of women is shown to be one in which toughness and resiliency help to define who they are and how they act in a modern setting. Rather than capitulate to the labels and judgments of a social order that does not help them, women such as Debbie and Julie are shown to rise above such a condition with an identity that emphasizes resiliency, strength in togetherness, and the ability to transform what is into what can be.

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Debbie and Julie

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