Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Doris Lessing's The Fifth Child. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The Fifth Child: Context
The Fifth Child: Plot Summary
The Fifth Child: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The Fifth Child: Themes
The Fifth Child: Quotes
The Fifth Child: Characters
The Fifth Child: Symbols
The Fifth Child: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Doris Lessing
Historical Context of The Fifth Child
Other Books Related to The Fifth Child
- Full Title: The Fifth Child
- When Written: 1980s
- Where Written: London
- When Published: 1988
- Literary Period: Feminist
- Genre: Gothic
- Setting: A small town within commuting distance of London
- Climax: Harriet retrieves Ben from the institution where he’s been abandoned and the family’s contentment is immediately dashed.
- Antagonist: Ben
- Point of View: Third person omniscient, free indirect discourse
Extra Credit for The Fifth Child
You can never go home. Doris Lessing was outspoken about her politics throughout her life, causing her to be barred from entering Rhodesia and South Africa for her resistance to white minority rule.
Fit mother. When Lessing moved to London, she took with her only her youngest son. She saw this not as an act of abandonment of her other children, but rather as an act of bravery in fulfilling her own dreams.