The fifth child summary. The Fifth Child Summary & Study Guide 2019-02-15

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Ben, in the World: The Sequel to the Fifth Child by Doris

the fifth child summary

The family visits for Easter and stays for three weeks, and James needs to write an additional check to pay for it. Harriet decides she is a misfit and seeks reassurance from her mother who confirms that Harriet is old-fashioned and that other girls would love to be like her. Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders. One day she decided that she had to go visit Ben to see how he was holding up. Ben, meanwhile, becomes involved with a gang of teenaged boys who, like him, have difficulty functioning in school.

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The Fifth Child

the fifth child summary

Harriet and David go on a weekend trip alone to reconnect. After some back-and-forth, Harriet asks if the child is human and the doctor seems to entertain the possibility that he is not. The most obvious character that is unaware of the entirety of his actions is none other than Ben. Within this frame, David and Harriet are notably inexperienced. Ben was emotionless, he just sat around watching the children interact but showed no signs. At eight months, the labor pains begin, and Harriet gives birth to an eleven-pound boy, caveman-like in appearance and surprisingly strong. Those plans come to fruition sooner than they plan when, on the day they complete the purchase of the large home they want to fill with children, they make love and Harriet conceives their first child.

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The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing: Pages 116

the fifth child summary

He eventually becomes as much a part of the family as he can be, learning to speak and to get along with his brothers and sisters. When living purely in the moments created in the family, the bliss is overwhelming, causing confusion when they feel judged by others for their happiness. Ben is finally of age to go to school, and Harriet anticipates horrible news from his teachers, but they insist that, despite his not picking up on the lessons, he tries very hard. A sequel, 2000 recounts Ben's life after he has left his family. In this interaction, Dorothy identifies the way that David and Harriet contradict themselves in having bought a house that is beyond their means while also wishing for the simple life of people who live outside the realm of a more formal society.

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The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing: Pages 116

the fifth child summary

Stubbornly out of line with the fashions of the 1960s they decide to marry and lay down the foundations of their haven in a rambling Victorian house. The expectant mother is tormented by the fierce, unnaturally strong fetus. Also, Doris Lessing elucidates the rigidity of a society, which is based upon patriarchy, in her novels, The Fifth Child and Ben in the World. She is married to William and has children with him, one being Amy, who has. Seeing this, she knows she must bring him home. It describes the changes in the happy life of a married couple, Harriet and David Lovatt, as a consequence of the birth of Ben, their fifth child.

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The Fifth Child Quotes by Doris Lessing

the fifth child summary

Harriet settles for a sedative prescription she can use on Ben in moments of crisis. This is the first indication that Harriet, previously cheery, is allowing her irritation to show through plainly. David must ask James for even more money, rather than ruin the illusion that the Lovatts are prosperous enough to host guest all this time. In the mid-1960s, David and Harriet spot each other across the room at their office Christmas party and know immediately that they are meant for one another. His sending off to the mental institution is too harsh and it happened so early during his life that it is inhumane to treat him that way. .


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The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing: Pages 116

the fifth child summary

William also loses his job. Bridget provides an outside perspective on the dynamics of the family, convinced that she wants a similar life for herself, not having been made privy to any complications. I will argue that Ben is misjudged by his family and pushed towards being worse. Yet the boys still hung around with Ben. Doris Lessing's acclaimed 1988 novel The Fifth Child is the grim but compelling tale of an English family that is destroyed by the birth of a child who is a throwback to an earlier stage of human development.


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The Fifth Child

the fifth child summary

The narrative begins with a description of how the similarly watchful Harriet and David meet at a rowdy office party, immediately realize that they are very much kindred spirits, and make plans to marry and have a large family. Ben's violent and destructive nature, however, makes him unable to accept those offers. The two marry and purchase a large house in a small town within commuting distance of London. Harriet and David move at an accelerated pace, right away, committing to each other and forming a family of their own, without taking much time to make sure they are making the right decision. Again, Dorothy withholds her judgment, instead focusing on the pragmatics of what the situation will require of her. It is as if his family wants him to be a goblin and refuse to see him as a mentally challenged human child. Harriets fear grows as she struggles to love and care for the child, finding herself faced with a dark sub-continent of human nature, unable to cope.

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The Fifth Child (2016)

the fifth child summary

After convincing David's divorced parents and Harriet's widowed mother to support their plans, Harriet and David expand their family at a rapid rate, bring four children Luke, Helen, Jane and Paul into their home in quick succession and with relative ease. Ben has an innocent soul. Harriet argues that in some countries, large families are not nearly so rare and David agrees. Harriet and David force themselves to read the news, but would prefer to remain safe and sequestered in the unaffected sanctuary of their home. Ben started to drift off with his friends, leaving the house for days and not returning.

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