The Fifth Child

by

Doris Lessing

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Molly Character Analysis

Molly, a large and untidy academic, kind and remote if not typically maternal, is David’s mother. She is content to live a simpler, less well-to-do life than her first husband, James. Remarried now to Frederick, their house is the one David calls home. Molly and her husband aim at an appearance of uncomformity, and they judge David and Harriet’s conventional family ideals. She provides financial support when her husband recommends that Ben be put into an institution and also to help pay for Helen’s boarding school, agreeing that Helen needs to get out of proximity to Ben.

Molly Quotes in The Fifth Child

The The Fifth Child quotes below are all either spoken by Molly or refer to Molly . 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

She did not realize, as David did, how annoyed these two parents were. Aiming, like all their kind, at an appearance of unconformity, they were in fact the essence of convention, and disliked any manifestation of the spirit of exaggeration, of excess. This house was that.

Related Symbols: The Victorian House
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:
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Molly Character Timeline in The Fifth Child

The timeline below shows where the character Molly 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
Biological Families vs. Nontraditional Families Theme Icon
...had divorced when he was seven, and David felt split between his homes. His mother, Molly, had remarried an academic, Frederick—both are “kind, if remote,” and they live in Oxford. David... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Conformity and Otherness Theme Icon
Biological Families vs. Nontraditional Families Theme Icon
...but he never has before, unlike his sister who preferred his father’s lifestyle. One afternoon, Molly and Frederick visit, surprised at the size of the house and at the large family... (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
Molly suggests that James should visit, and soon afterwards he arrives with his wife, Jessica. They... (full context)
Pages 33 – 74
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
...and Frederick answers that James will have to pay the majority, but that Frederick and Molly will chip in (the first time they have offered financial help), though everyone knows their... (full context)
Pages 74 – 96
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Biological Families vs. Nontraditional Families Theme Icon
Happiness vs. Contentment Theme Icon
...and says that she must visit Ben. David tells her not to, but Harriet phones Molly and convinces her to share the address. Harriet drives the five hours to the institution.... (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
...visit for the summer holidays because Harriet has explained that Ben is hardly ever home. Molly and Frederick do not attend, unable to forgive Harriet for bringing Ben home. Among the... (full context)
Pages 96 – 133
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Conformity and Otherness Theme Icon
Biological Families vs. Nontraditional Families Theme Icon
...(13) and Helen (11) ask to be sent to boarding school. They’ve asked James and Molly, respectively, to pay their school fees. Luke informs them that it will be better for... (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 house with 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 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 when she visits... (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
...wanted to be better than everyone and David says they wanted only to be themselves. Molly and Frederick bring Helen, now an attractive, self-sufficient, if distant, sixteen-year-old. James brings Luke, now... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Biological Families vs. Nontraditional Families Theme Icon
Happiness vs. Contentment Theme Icon
Molly tells David and Harriet they must sell the house. David publicly agrees with Harriet that... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Conformity and Otherness Theme Icon
Biological Families vs. Nontraditional Families Theme Icon
Happiness vs. Contentment Theme Icon
...be reached if he can’t find her. Ben takes the sheet of paper, marked with Molly and Frederick’s address, but Harriet finds the note discarded on the floor and she doesn’t... (full context)