Stories Characters

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Stories Summary & Study Guide Description

Stories Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Stories by Doris Lessing.

Roseappears in The Other Woman

Rose is a young adult when her mother is killed by a lorry truck. Rose and her mother haven't seen eye-to-eye on everything, though they are very much alike. Almost immediately after her mother's death, Rose sets out to remake the home she shares with her father to be the way she wants. She also breaks off her engagement, though she admits to being confused about the reason for that decision. Rose is a complex character in that she refuses her father's offer that she quit work and stay at home to take care of the housework and other chores, saying that she desires her financial independence. She does, however, remain cloistered away in her father's house until a bombing destroys the building and forces her to move. Even then, it takes the prodding of another person to make her abandon the building. This tendency to desire independence while remaining so co-dependent is not explained. Rose tries to read the newspaper, hoping to make herself better educated because of her boyfriend Jimmie's intelligence. It's while she's reading a newspaper article that she encounters a description of "the other woman". She recognizes that she is playing that role but doesn't really equate it with her life.

Maureen Watsonappears in Notes for a Case History

Maureen is born at 93 Nelson's Way, the daughter of a middle class family, though she has many advantages not given to her friends. She is very pretty and outshines her best friend, Shirley Banner, who is pretty but winds up with the boys who first notice Maureen but are refused. Maureen dates little and is careful not to give in to the demands of boys. As a result, many of her dates drop out after a few dates. Maureen drops out of school at fifteen to work in her parents' store. Later, she realizes that it wasn't the best choice and her parents dig up the money to send her to secretarial school. They initially object, saying that Maureen would have gotten the secretarial education for free if she'd remained in school, but Maureen counters, saying that they should have been foresighted enough to see that she wouldn't want to remain in the business forever and force her to remain in school. It's a statement of their relationship that this argument apparently works, and Maureen is sent to school. Maureen hates the fact that her mother wants her to live out a particular kind of life, specifically aimed at a particular kind of marriage. However, Maureen herself has ambitions of her own and feels that she's settled for second best by agreeing to marry Stanley.

Hetty Penefatherappears in An Old Woman and Her Cat

Hetty is a widower who has completely lost contact with her four grown children. She's living on a pension but is unable to make ends meet and finds herself out on the street when she falls behind on the rent. She spends the rest of her life in condemned houses where she stays until builders put her out to find a new place. Her sole companion is her cat, Tibby, who brings birds for her during the final years when she's literally too weak to go out and beg for food for herself.

Susan Rawlingsappears in To Rom Nineteen

Susan is wife of Matthew and mother of four, a boy, a girl and a set of twins. She realizes that she's fortunate to have her life with a husband who is outwardly devoted, four healthy children and a large house. However, she feels often depressed and becomes withdrawn, unable to cope with the demands of her life, which she sees as overwhelming to the point that she gives up and commits suicide.

Jimmieappears in The Other Woman

A young man who tries to talk Rose into getting out of her bombed-out apartment after her father's death. Jimmie is an adulterer, and even after he gets a divorce, he continues to lie to Rose about his marital status in order to keep from having to marry Rose.

George Talbotappears in The Habit of Loving

George is sixty when his mistress tells him that she's not going to return to him. He battles with depression and loneliness for awhile and eventually becomes ill, prompting him to hire a nurse. The young woman is in her late thirties and George eventually comes to realize that he doesn't want her to leave. As he struggles to find happiness in this new relationship, she tells him that he's in the "habit of loving".

Jerry appears in Through the Tunnel

Jerry is eleven when he and his mother go on their annual seaside vacation. Jerry is struggling to come to terms with his emerging maturity. At one point he is horribly embarrassed because he resorts to horseplay in order to attract the attention of a group of older boys. He wants to fit in with them, but wants even more to find a way to be comfortable in his adolescence. He comes to realize that a tunnel through some rocks is symbolic of his emerging maturity. He works diligently to hone his body so that he can make the swim through the tunnel, at one point considering putting it off for another year.

Mr. Brookeappears in The Witness

The accountant who is past retirement age but continues to work because he hasn't got enough money saved to live without a job and because the job is the only thing in his life to take up his time.

Hamish Andersonappears in The Eye of God in Paradise

A young British doctor who travels in Germany with his girlfriend, Dr. Mary Parish. Hamish quickly feels ill at ease in the country and wants to leave. He's very angry with the treatment of the mentally ill in the hospital he visits. Hamish is something of snob, and both he and Mary tend to judge quickly and harshly, though he realizes that this isn't a good tendency and that his judgments are not always correct or fair.

Mary Parishappears in The Eye of God in Paradise

A young British doctor who is traveling with her boyfriend, Dr. Hamish Anderson. Mary is horrified at the sight of a young boy constrained with a straightjacket while a woman watches over him as she knits. Mary has a strong sense of fairness, though she is quick to judge.

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