DORIS LESSING “ The fifth child” ( p 13-16 “ If I’m pregnant), Harper Perennial
Intro: up to you / put this passage into its context recall what happened in the first extract studied
The question we shall try to answer: will the house Harriet and David have found be their home sweet home, the house of their dreams?
1) LONGING FOR A HOUSE AND A KINGDOM
a)David’s love for his room and hisdesire to find a new one:
-elements we have in the passage just before this one ( p 12) + David’s wish now
liked “his old room in Oxford”which was “large” , “shabby” and “full of his boyhood” => wants to create with Harriet and “extension and amplification of it”.
L 13, we can read “what he was working for was a home”: his main aim in life
b)The meaning of a home in general and moreprecisely for David and Harriet:
-In general home means much more than the house one resides in.
Home = a safe an protective place, a shelter, a haven, a refuge where you feel comfortable
a place where, family, relatives, friends gather ( a spirit of communion) and where important events are celebrated (birthdays, and New Year’s Eve, religious feasts like Easter).
-In Harriet and David’scase, the home is directly associated with the founding of a family ( l 25: “ But they meant to have a lot of children” ). Both Harriet and David regard their future life as a “kingdom” l 3 and l 61. The house must be the seat of this kingdom.
2)THE HOUSE OF THEIR DREAMS
So both Harriet and David are on the lookout for the house of their dreams and one day they seem to have found it.
a) Thehouse has all the criteria they were looking for and corresponds to who they are
-a smallish town within commuting distance from London: this fits their distaste for the bustling and noisy life of the city
-an overgrown garden: reminiscent of nature , once more in keeping with their distaste for big bustling cities, this reminds us of the narrator remarking that Harriet was probably more atplace in a garden than at a party.
-a large Victorian house: huge, “ three-storeyed house, with an attic full, full of rooms, corridors, landings”, l 13; “very large room”, l 46; “that great room”, l 60; “capacious stairs”, l 47 an ideal room to found a family although it is not suitable for a couple + a 19th century house the belongs to another century like them
b) A house they can projectthemselves in and that becomes theirs as soon as they see it
-they can visualize their future in this house: they imagine the house as it will look, they can see themselves live in there, they can already visualize their future children and all their relatives and friends coming to have a good time. Notice the use of “would”, the conditional ( future in the past, the story is told in the past)
” alow wall that would have books on it, the other half with plenty of space for settees, chairs, all the sprawl and comfort of a family room”; ”They went across the bare boards that soon would have rugs on them, and then slowly went up the stairs where old-fashioned brass rods waited for a carpet. On the landing, they turned to marvel at the great room that would be the heart of their kingdom”. “anenormous attic, just right for the children when they had got the age for secret magical games”.
- a house that they take possession of on the first day they own it . Indeed their first approach to the house has some sexual overtones
i. They first enter the house cautiously as if the house were a new lover you had to get to know and you were intimidated by
l 54 “ they went gently, softly,hardly breathing, smiling and looking at each other”.
i. Are moved by the house: ”tears” // sexual pleasure
ii. As they go up the stairs, they get into the heart of the house : they impregnate the house and end up on the bed where they make love and cry again ( l 87) real sexual pleasure mixed the joy of having a house
* We can say that they really inhabit the house in the sense...
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