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Room Nineteen Essay

771 words - 4 pages

The Retreat from Reality

In Doris Lessings “To Room Nineteen” and Willa Cather’s “Paul’s Case” we meet both characters as they try to exist in the lives their social environment deems acceptable. In their efforts they find happiness eludes them and escape to a reality they alone create. Both Paul and Susan’s journey to their self inflicted demises are very different, yet eerily similar.

The protagonist, Susan, in “To Room Nineteen” lived a life deemed to be ideal by society. She worked, got married, got pregnant, moved to a lovely home and neighborhood, proceeded to have more children and stayed at home to raise them. Susan and her husband lived an enviable life. Yet she is not ...view middle of the document...

If everything she had done in her marriage had been for their love, what did the affair mean to the marriage? After Susan found out about the affair she felt as if “life had become a desert and that nothing mattered” (Lessing 871) and she went on to try to rationalize that “a high price has to be paid for a “happy marriage with the four healthy children in the large white gardened house” (Lessing 871). In “Paul’s Case”, Paul’s father thought what he did was in his best interests. He took him out of school, forbade him to go to the concert hall and theatre and send him to work with Denny and Carson. By taking away these things from Paul his father had “taken away his bone” (Cather 244) the thing that made his mundane existence bearable. In both cases, the antagonists had taken away from the protagonist what had kept these individuals in their unhappy existence.

Susan’s isolation was gradual. For Paul is isolation was almost immediate. Paul had the things that made his existence bearable taken away and as soon as the opportunity came to leave he took it. For both of the characters...

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