Doris Lessing. To Room Nineteen. Summary. Susan and Matthew’s marriage was a “perfect” marriage. (pp.2542-3) Susan becomes a dutiful wife and mother. (p.2544) Matthew begins to have affairs. (pp.2544-2545) The youngest children (twins) are “off her hand.” (p. 2546)
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To Room Nineteen
Susan and Matthew’s marriage was a “perfect” marriage. (pp.2542-3)
Susan becomes a dutiful wife and mother. (p.2544)
Matthew begins to have affairs.
The youngest children (twins) are “off her hand.” (p. 2546)
Susan rents a hotel room for solitude. (p.2552)
Susan cannot find a way to her real self except by killing herself. Her marriage is “a failure”. (p.2564)
Finally, for the sake of escaping her “irrational” feelings or behaviors, she decides to go away from her family to seek for solitude. She rents a hotel room every afternoon where she just sits and thinks. Later, Matthew finds her unusual behaviors and doubts she is having an affair. She knows that Matthew’s rational world will not recognize her “irrational” feelings or behaviors. So, she decides to tell him a lie that she is indeed having an affair. As family life and her husband fail her, she cannot find a way to her real self except by turning on the gas in the rented room 19 until she “drifts off into the dark river.”
★What is Susan’s inner transition in her marriage?
Why cannot she live her own life?
to repress (p.2546) to break down (p.2548)
to repress (p.2548) to depress (p.2551) to
Mother’s Room (p.2551) to Room 19 and then
commit suicide (p.2564)
Cheung, Agnes Ying-fun. The Theme of Escape In Doris Lessing’s Fiction. MA Thesis. The Graduate Institute of English. Taipei: Fu Jen University, 1987. 14-8.
★ How does Lessing express her view of
marriage through her narrative technique
and the character of Susan?
★ How do you comment on Susan’s human
relationship in the story? How does it
relate to the “mid-life crisis”?
Midlife crisis for women— The feeling of “empty nest” makes women depressed and terrified. However, for Susan, nothing is important in her life, not even her children. In the end, Susan is tired of her madness and surrenders to death. The words— “intelligent” and “civilized”—for her are ironic, and her “intelligence” somehow leads her to commit suicide.