The Fifth Child

by

Doris Lessing

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Helen Lovatt Character Analysis

Harriet and David’s second child. Though she also tries to teach Ben certain skills and is very kindhearted, eventually Helen asks, at the same time as Luke, to be sent to boarding school so that she might no longer be in Ben’s threatening company at home. Helen matures into a cool and distant young woman who is attractive and self-sufficient.

Helen Lovatt Quotes in The Fifth Child

The The Fifth Child quotes below are all either spoken by Helen Lovatt or refer to Helen Lovatt. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Fifth Child published in 1988.
Pages 3 – 33 Quotes

Happiness. A happy family. The Lovatts were a happy family. It was what they had chosen and what they deserved.

Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
Pages 33 – 74 Quotes

“Suddenly the little girl found she was alone. She and her brother had lost each other. She wanted to go home. She did not know which way to walk […] She wandered about for a long time, and then she was thirsty again. She bent over a pool wondering if it would be orange juice, but it was water, clear pure forest water […] She bent over the pool […] but she saw something she didn’t expect. It was a girl’s face, and she was looking straight up at her. It was a face she had never seen in her whole life. This strange girl was smiling, but it was a nasty smile, not friendly, and the little girl thought this other girl was going to reach up out of the water and pull her down into it.”

Page Number: 44-45
Explanation and Analysis:

“The trouble is, you get used to hell,” said Harriet. “After a day with Ben I feel as if nothing exists but him. As if nothing has ever existed. I suddenly realize I haven’t remembered the others for hours. I forgot their supper yesterday. Dorothy went to the pictures, and I came down and found Helen cooking their supper.”

Related Symbols: The Institution
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

He watched the children, particularly Luke and Helen, all the time. He studied how they moved, sat down, stood up; copied how they ate. He had understood that these two, the older ones, were more socially accomplished than Jane; and he ignored Paul altogether. When the children watched television, he squatted near them and looked from the screen to their faces, for he needed to know what reactions were appropriate. If they laughed, then, a moment later, he contributed a loud, hard, unnatural-sounding laugh.

Page Number: 68-69
Explanation and Analysis:
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Helen Lovatt Character Timeline in The Fifth Child

The timeline below shows where the character Helen Lovatt appears in The Fifth Child. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Pages 3 – 33
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Conformity and Otherness Theme Icon
The second child, Helen, is born in the family bed, too, in 1968. Helen moves into the baby room... (full context)
Pages 96 – 133
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Conformity and Otherness Theme Icon
Biological Families vs. Nontraditional Families Theme Icon
When Ben turns five, Luke (13) and Helen (11) ask to be sent to boarding school. They’ve asked James and Molly, respectively, to... (full context)
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Conformity and Otherness Theme Icon
Biological Families vs. Nontraditional Families Theme Icon
With Helen and Luke away at boarding school and Jane hanging out with friends after school, Harriet... (full context)
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Conformity and Otherness Theme Icon
Biological Families vs. Nontraditional Families Theme Icon
Happiness vs. Contentment Theme Icon
At Christmas, Luke stays with James and Helen goes to Molly’s house. Dorothy stays for three days, but takes Jane back to her... (full context)
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Conformity and Otherness Theme Icon
Biological Families vs. Nontraditional Families Theme Icon
...James, though occasionally James brings Luke to visit, sensing that Harriet and David miss him. Helen stays with Molly, visiting very infrequently. Jane remains living with Dorothy and Sarah’s family, and... (full context)
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Conformity and Otherness Theme Icon
Biological Families vs. Nontraditional Families Theme Icon
...except for the support James gave to Luke. Harriet, David and Paul leave to visit Helen and Luke, and Dorothy is left alone with Ben, whom she hasn’t seen in a... (full context)