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The Mother Of The Child In Question

1053 words - 5 pages

The Mother of the Child in Question

The Mother of the Child in Question, written by Doris Lessing, is a short story from 1988. The story is about a social worker, named Stephen Bentley, and his attempt to persuade a Pakistani family to send their youngest daughter to a special school because she is mentally retarded. The family in question is the Khans, an immigrant family consisting of Mr. & Mrs. Khan, their son Hassan, their daughter Shireen and two older daughters whom we do not hear anything specific about in the story. Mrs. Khan, the mother, will not realize that her daughter is not a normal girl, so she does everything she can to convince the social worker, Stephen Bentley, that ...view middle of the document...

She seems only to really focus on her brother, and pretty much ignore the conversation between the adults, which she probably does not understand at all. Mrs. Khan does not speak English so well, but she is a proud and stubborn woman. The only thought she has, is that Shireen must go to a normal school like other children and will hear none of this nonsense about a special school.

One of the main themes is the difference between western and eastern culture. There are many elements which are foreign to the western culture, such as clothing and the family pattern. Even when Hassan is far from the oldest of the children, he is the representative of his father which makes him more powerful than his sisters. This is a typical thing in the eastern culture, where the boy is more valuable than the girl because he is the stronger and smarter according to them. We still see that Hassan is not comfortable about this by his faking smile. He smiles constantly as a sine he must do. “Where is Mr. Khan?” asked Stephen of Mrs. Khan, who nodded commandingly at her son. Hassan at once said, “No he cannot come, he is at work”. We see that the mother is giving Hassan a sign of what he has to answer, as if he was told what to say so he could be prepared before the social worker came. It also shows us that Hassan is a second-generation immigrant, which makes him seeing the western culture more acceptable than his parents, who are first-generation immigrants. They way Mrs. Khan tries to get Bentley convinced, about that her daughter is normal, is by trying to get Shireen to count her biscuits and showing of her color book. But Bentley can clearly see that it is not working, and tries to figure out what the reason for this huge resistance from the mother is all about. He finally finds the answer and rejects the other thoughts he had...

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