The Mother of the Child in Question

Dette er Studienets study guide til novellen “The Mother of the Child in Question” af Doris Lessing. Teksten optræder i lærebogen Contexts (s. 150) under temaet DIFFERENT WORLDS.

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Titel: “The Mother of the Child in Question”
Forfatter: Doris Lessing
Genre: Short story
Udgivelsesår: 1992

Doris Lessing (1919-2013) var en prisvindende britisk forfatter af noveller, romaner, dramaer og biografier. Hun modtog Nobelprisen i litteratur i 2007 og året efter David Cohen-prisen for britisk litteratur. Nogle af hendes mest kendte værker er romanerne Children of Violence og The Golden Notebook.

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Title

From the title of the short story “The Mother of the Child in Question” by Doris Lessing, the readers expect the story to be about a child whose mother will play an important part in the narrative. The title also suggests that there is some uncertainty about the child. These expectations are proven correct: the mother does play an important part in the story and ends up influencing the social worker’s decision regarding her child’s future.

The wording of the title suggests a detached, outsider perspective. The style is formal and recalls the language of official reports. The phrase “the child in question” appears in the story as part of the medical report on Shireen: “The child in question would possibly benefit to a limited extent from special tuition.” (p. 153, ll. 15-16). The formal and detached wording of the report is contrasted with Mrs Khan’s tenderness towards her child, whom she does not see as “ ‘subnormal’ ” (p. 155, ll. 5-6). Mrs Khan disregards the label in the medical report, which reduces Shireen to a single word regarding her intellectual abilities. As Stephen Bentley realizes in the end, Mrs Khan and the entire family will have a more important influence on the child’s development than the special school (p. 155, ll. 32-33).

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The Mother of the Child in Question

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