One of the most completely realized characters in modern literature, Anna Wulf represents the New Woman. Although she believes that she is emotionally fulfilled in a love relationship with a man, she does not rely on a man for her position in the larger society. Doris Lessing’s achievement is in tracing the development of such a woman from her early twenties to her midthirties. Part of that development is an honest portrayal of the character’s sexual identity. As a young woman, Anna was not fulfilled sexually in her relationship with a young Communist in Africa. It is only after she has moved to London and has established a relationship with Michael, the lover who eventually leaves her, that she feels sexually fulfilled. Significantly, it is after Michael has left her that she feels her identity undergoing a crisis.
In addition to having a lasting, meaningful relationship with a man, Anna feels the need to make a commitment which will give meaning to her life. Joining the Communist Party is one attempt at making that kind of commitment. A sensitive, highly intelligent woman, Anna longs to bring social justice to the world, and she believes that the Communist Party is the most effective avenue toward achieving that goal. As a girl in South Central Africa, she witnessed the terrible results of racial discrimination, and she wants to do something to change it.
Yet Anna discovers that the Communist Party is not finally the avenue she must follow; it contains inner paradoxes which will not allow her the freedom to experience a more subjective, individual meaning—a meaning she believes she must develop in order to live an...
(The entire section is 674 words.)