Hardships of an Abnormal Child in the Book, The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing

Hardships of an Abnormal Child in the Book, The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing

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The fifth child is the story of David and Harriet Lovatt, a couple who met at an office party neither of them wanted to be at, where they soon found each other. Both of them have a rather traditional mindset and believe that marriage, fidelity and a large family is more important than a successful career or sexual liberation which was the norm at the time. It didn’t take long before they started talking about having children, but decided to wait until Harriet could quit her job in two years so they could afford the mortgage of their victorian house that they decided to buy. Although in a moment of passion they ignored their plans and Harriet got pregnant with their first child, Luke. Eventually they came to have more children until they had 4 in total and both of them couldn’t be happier. Their dinner table was always crowded with relatives and friends. And they decided that they didn’t want more children.

However, in a turn of events, Harriet got pregnant again. This time with Ben, their fifth child. Not long into the pregnancy Harriet notices that this child was different. Ben was moving very early, and very violently inside her. Harriet went through a very difficult birth and Ben was born 1 month early, But it’s not until she looks at her fifth child that she knows that she can’t love him like the other children because he was too abnormal. The problems with Ben started early in his development.

He became very strong and aggressive and beating his siblings was not out of the ordinary. But it was not until a few days after the christmas holidays that Ben’s true colours were shown. One of the guests in the Lovatt’s household brought a dog with them, a terrier. Immediately Ben took a peculiar interest. Wherever the dog was...


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...ity that perhaps the main antagonist wasn’t completely to blame and perhaps start a discussion about whether parents can be the reason a child becomes mentally disturbed. I wanted my text to be long enough to cover the main idea, but short enough to leave room for discussion about the topic.
To achieve this I wrote a short summary of the book in order to introduce the parenting aspect to people who perhaps had not read the book yet and to try to give an explanation to why Ben was the way he was instead of just describing him as evil. I have tried to keep a serious tone but not overly so, which could perhaps bore the readers/listeners and by using words such as neglect, stigmatised, freak, monster in order to capture the essence of the text and perhaps show how the projection of evil and the expectations of others can affect someone; I believe I have achieved this.

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