The Fifth Child

by

Doris Lessing

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Luke Lovatt Character Analysis

Harriet and David’s first child. Though he tries to teach Ben certain skills and mentor him, eventually Luke asks to be sent to boarding school to remove himself from the threatening atmosphere that Ben creates at home. Luke grows up to be a natural observer like David: quiet, reliable and steady. He wants to take after his Grandfather, James, and build boats.

Luke Lovatt Quotes in The Fifth Child

The The Fifth Child quotes below are all either spoken by Luke Lovatt or refer to Luke 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:

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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Luke Lovatt Character Timeline in The Fifth Child

The timeline below shows where the character Luke 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
Biological Families vs. Nontraditional Families Theme Icon
Happiness vs. Contentment Theme Icon
Just after Christmas in 1966, Harriet gives birth to Luke in the family bed. He’s a good-natured baby who is easy to care for. David... (full context)
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Conformity and Otherness Theme Icon
...in 1968. Helen moves into the baby room attached to Harriet and David’s bedroom, and Luke is moved to the next room over. Despite Harriet’s fatigue, she insists the extended family... (full context)
Pages 33 – 74
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Conformity and Otherness Theme Icon
Happiness vs. Contentment Theme Icon
Luke begs David for a story one night during dinner. David tells the story of two... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Biological Families vs. Nontraditional Families Theme Icon
On his way up to bed, Luke asks if everyone is coming for the summer holidays. Dorothy and David look to Harriet... (full context)
Pages 74 – 96
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Conformity and Otherness Theme Icon
Biological Families vs. Nontraditional Families Theme Icon
Happiness vs. Contentment Theme Icon
...relief. At dinner, Jane asks if her parents will send the other children away, too. Luke assures Jane that Ben was sent away because he wasn’t really one of them. (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... (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 finally has... (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... (full context)
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Conformity and Otherness Theme Icon
Biological Families vs. Nontraditional Families Theme Icon
Luke stays mostly with James, though occasionally James brings Luke to visit, sensing that Harriet 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
...mostly on work and paying all their bills, except for the support James gave to Luke. Harriet, David and Paul leave to visit Helen and Luke, and Dorothy is left alone... (full context)
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Conformity and Otherness Theme Icon
Biological Families vs. Nontraditional Families Theme Icon
Happiness vs. Contentment Theme Icon
...themselves. Molly and Frederick bring Helen, now an attractive, self-sufficient, if distant, sixteen-year-old. James brings Luke, now a reliable eighteen-year-old observer. Dorothy brings Jane, a non-academic fourteen-year-old. Paul, eleven, asks why... (full context)