Doris Lessing Writing Styles in To Room Nineteen

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Narrative

Fiona Barnes, in her article for Dictionary of Literary Biography, argues that Lessing's "stories benefit from the creative tension caused by the unsettling contrast between the ethical, at times political, commitment of her vision and the cool, frequently humorous, detachment of her ironic tone." Lessing displays this ironic tone masterfully in "To Room Nineteen." From the opening line, the narrator sets up the tension between Lessing's political focus in the story and the detached narrative tone: "This is a story, I suppose, about a failure in intelligence: the Rawlings's marriage was grounded in intelligence."

The "I suppose" undercuts the suggestion that what drives Susan to suicide is the "failure" of her intelligence┬Śher inability to control her emotions and her deep-seated desire for freedom. The narrator continues this subterfuge of the accepted judgment of Susan's condition throughout the story. For example, when the narrator notes that both Susan...

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This section contains 443 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the To Room Nineteen Study Guide
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To Room Nineteen from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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