•                                                         The fifth Child by Doris Lessing- 1998

                                                                                 Extract 2

    The scene takes place in the dinning-room and the characters are: Harriet and David / Dorothy and Alice. They are talking about Ben while Harriet is giving Ben bottle. The main issue in this scene is the question prononced by Harriet about her son  " What is he ?". So, the mother defines her own son as a thing.


    Around the kitchen table:

       In this scene everybody talking and looking at him Ben,  that's why he is the main character.

     Moreover, Ben is the center of all conversations because he drinks between 10 and 11 bottles      whereas he has only two months.

      The main question concerning him is "What is he ?". Indeed, he is concerning as a thing instead of a person. Ben appears like a beast. There is any answer to this question. David, Dorothy and Alice said nothing.

     Words about Ben ( while he is having his bottle )

         - emptied        - supporting it with his two fists       - body clenched and unclenched

     Definition :    " Neanderthal baby"= refer to prehistoric man. Indeed, Ben is very aggressive.

    At the doctor's: 

    The doctor's first reaction when Harriet tells him Ben has got milk-infection is " A breast-fed baby shouldn't get infections"( he said). But Ben isn't breasfed unlike the other children. As a consequence, the doctor is surprised because isn't the style of Harriet.

     When Harriet shows the doctor her bruised nipples this one keep the silence. For the first time he is confronted a problem beyond him.

    The doctor thinks and says about Ben " Naughty baby ".

    Question: Can you imagine his intimate thoughts ?

        This baby is really like no other. His aggression are surprising. I think he's different and he never will be kind / gentle as his brothers and sisters. I don't understand his behavior. Moreover, how can a two months old baby, can be as strong.

     The doctor's diagnosis concern Ben noting. He says "There's obviously nothing much wrong". So, for him Ben is normal and no sick.

    The doctor didn't shocked by the fact that Harriet doesn't like the baby because he has already seen people who dislike to a child. 

    The extra-ordinary things does Ben do is : try to get himself on all fours.

    Ben is qualified by his own mother of  "nasty little brute".

    Words showing that Harriet feels guilty

    - insisted           - steadily

    Harriet said nothing but she was smiling unpleasantly and knew it.

    In this passage Harriet doesn't appear as motherly, as she used to be all the other children and that's why the other don't understand her attitude. She is progressively going to be isolated. So, the reader discover in Harriet a woman helpless and discourage.

    Back Home: 

    In the last part of the passage the atmosphere is tense but the joy is dominante. The atmosphere is happy, playing around.

    The people's reaction to that new baby is the joy but too the impatience to meet the future baby. Whole family is very excite.

    The last impression conveyed in the passage is that the child Paul doesn't the same baby. Moreover, Ben became the center of the family.

    Extract of this novel  (link)

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