By Ruth Whittaker (auth.)
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Additional resources for Doris Lessing
She still lives in a girls' hostel and dresses like a young girl. Her social life is full, but her men friends 'treated her just like a good pal, with none of this silly sex business' (Ch. 2). Mary overhears some friends talking about her marriage prospects. One of them says she is unlikely to marry: 'She just isn't like that, isn't like that at all' (Ch. 2). This denial of her sexual nature puzzles and upsets Mary, and she marries Dick to restore her self-esteem, but the marriage is a failure.
When he sees the relationship threatened, he murders her. In this first novel Doris Lessing rehearses themes which recur in her later work. These include the relationship between 22 Doris Lessing dominant and dominated races, the taboos which operate and the methods by which the status quo is maintained. We see the effect of the African landscape and climate on the whites, and the ways in which white aspirations are defeated. Mrs Lessing looks at female sexuality, and at the ways in which the balance of power is achieved between the sexes in her first close analysis of the dynamics of marriage.
2). This denial of her sexual nature puzzles and upsets Mary, and she marries Dick to restore her self-esteem, but the marriage is a failure. The narrator depicts this failure in a way which prefigures the analyses of women's sexual identities in The Children of Violence sequence, and in The Golden Notebook. 'Women have an extraordinary ability to withdraw from the sexual relationship, to immunize themselves against it, in such a way that their men can be left feeling let down and insulted without having anything tangible to complain of.