The Fifth Child

by

Doris Lessing

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William Character Analysis

Husband to Sarah, with whom he quarrels often. Regularly out of work. He and Sarah don’t believe divorce to be an option for them because of their financial circumstances and the four children they must support together. After his fourth child is born with Down Syndrome, William takes it upon himself to warn David and Harriet that they should stop having children or they might experience the bad luck he has.

William Quotes in The Fifth Child

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

Harriet said to David, privately, that she did not believe was bad luck: Sarah and William’s unhappiness, their quarrelling, had probably attracted the mongol child—yes, yes, of course she knew one shouldn’t call them mongol[…]David disliked this trait of Harriet’s, a fatalism that seemed so at odds with the rest of her. He said he thought this was silly hysterical thinking: Harriet sulked and they had to make up.

Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:
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William Character Timeline in The Fifth Child

The timeline below shows where the character William 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
...tight. Harriet’s sister, Sarah, casts a shadow on the atmosphere by quarreling with her husband, William. A divorce is not possible because they’re expecting their fourth child, though. (full context)
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Conformity and Otherness Theme Icon
Biological Families vs. Nontraditional Families Theme Icon
Happiness vs. Contentment Theme Icon
...the larger family. Sarah’s daughter Amy is born with Down Syndrome, confirming that Sarah and William must stay together to properly care for their children. Dorothy wishes there were two of... (full context)
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Biological Families vs. Nontraditional Families Theme Icon
Happiness vs. Contentment Theme Icon
David fails to receive the promotion he expected he’d get. William also loses his job. Sarah jokes that she and William get all the bad luck,... (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
William speaks up, saying what the rest of the family is thinking: that Harriet and David... (full context)