Doris Lessing Flight Essay Format

Similar Documents

Flight - Doris M. Lessing - English Essay

...Marjun Reginsdóttir 12r Flight Doris M. Lessing English essay A. The grand-father has some issues with being abandoned. He doesn't want his grand-daughter to grow up and leave him. He wants her to stay carefree, teasing and giggling as a child, not to grow up and become an adult. The fact that he is living without his wife, tells us that he has somehow lost her. His daughter is married, so he has lost her to another man. The other three grand-daughters are also married, and therefore he has lost them as well. This makes him angry and desperate about the fact that he is about to loose the last grand-daughter to a man. His anger is childish and even pleading at moments, but to no avail. He's the only one with that attitude about his grand-daughter's marriage. He thinks Alice is too young to marry the postmaster's son at the age of eighteen. The grand-father's anger torwards the grand-daughter is because of her abandoning him, and his anger torwards his daughter is because of her letting Alice leave. B. The opening scene of the story shown in a very symbolic matter. The grand-father, holding his favourite bird to let it fly away, sees his grand-daughter and changes his mind. He locks the bird in a cage for it to stay there. The grand-father is the main character of the story. We feel what he feels and we see what he sees. He's the most relatable character in the story. He is lonely because he has somehow lost his wife and lives with his daughter......

Words: 718 - Pages: 3

English Essay

...English - Final Exam Terms to Know The following link is very helpful: Examples Glossary from Your Dictionary Alliteration In alliteration, the first consonant sound is repeated in several words. A good example is “wide-eyed and wondering while we wait for others to waken”. Alliteration can be fun, as in tongue twisters like: “Kindly kittens knitting mittens keep kazooing in the king's kitchen 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Alice’s aunt ate apples and acorns around August. Becky’s beagle barked and bayed, becoming bothersome for Billy. Carries cat clawed her couch, creating chaos. Dan’s dog dove deep in the dam, drinking dirty water as he dove. Eric’s eagle eats eggs, enjoying each episode of eating. Examples of Alliteration Allusion “I was surprised his nose was not growing like Pinocchio’s.” This refers to the story of Pinocchio, where his nose grew whenever he told a lie. It is from The Adventures of Pinocchio, written by Carlo Collodi. “When she lost her job, she acted like a Scrooge, and refused to buy anything that wasn’t necessary.” Scrooge was an extremely stingy character from Charles Dickens’, A Christmas Carol. “I thought the software would be useful, but it was a Trojan Horse.” This refers to the horse that the Greeks built that contained all the soldiers. It was given as a gift to the enemy during the Trojan War and, once inside the enemy's walls, the soldiers broke out. By using trickery, the Greeks won the war. “He was a real Romeo with the ladies.” Romeo was a......

Words: 3244 - Pages: 13

English Essay

... "Advantages & Disadvantages of Mastering the English Language and Politics" Mastering the English laguage and politics can cause a possitive and negative efffect on a person by pointing out the flaws of society and government issues. Mastering the english language enlightens one on how to survive in this society and what this government is based on. Language can cause conflict to ones emotions an thoughts about this society and government,and its history. Fredrick Douglass, Malcolm X, and Jonathan Kozol help me show how when a person lives in this society without mastering its language they are unable to properly provide for themself or others, mastering the English language educates one in many differet political aspects, an how mastering the English language can open ones eyes to the flaws in this government and society and make them have negative feelings towards it. A person is unable to properly provide for themselves or their families if they have not mastered the english language. The histroical Fredick douglass shows this in his passage " Learning to Read and Write". He states, " the though of being a slave forever began to bear heavily upon my heart. Just about this time, i got hold of a book entittled "columbian Orator." every opportunity i got i used to read this book" (147) . Douglass felt like he would never be able to be free if he didnt continue to read and educate himself. Jonothan Kozol's passage "The Human Cost of an Illiterate society" also express......

Words: 1170 - Pages: 5


...Doris Lessing’s "Flight" is a short story revolving around an old man and his learning of accepting in life. The author, however, does not let her readers know much about the old man, especially in the sphere of physical appearance. Even his name is not known to the readers. Doris Lessing, alternatively, aims to steer her readers to centre on the old man’s inner feelings, i.e. his weird mood and his consequent eccentric behaviors. A close and careful analysis is essential for us to somehow get a reasonable explanation about his eccentricities. The old man keeps pigeons and considers the dovecote his refuge. These little birds are seemingly his only pleasure in life, for all of his three grand daughters have gone with their husbands, leaving him with his daughter Lucy and the young Alice. Because Alice is the last grand daughter to stay with him, and because she is going to get married, he feels possessive towards her. Never does he want her to leave as do her sisters. He always wants to keep her, to have control on her, and to never let her leave, for fear that she will never come back to him, like the way he prevents his favorite pigeon from flying back to the sky. He keeps on considering Alice as still a child and on objecting her courtship with Steven the postmaster’s son. This possessive and somewhat selfish attitude has led to his unconventional behaviors. Miserably and angrily he shouts at her, asking her old-fashioned phrases stating his objection to her future......

Words: 628 - Pages: 3

English Essay

...When I was first assigned to write a persuasive essay about the future in September, I wrote it about the different logic of people. Many can accept change that is heading towards them while many hesitate to approach it. Writing this essay was difficult because I didn’t have as much knowledge as I do now. As time went by, looking back at this essay, I believe I could’ve done a better job. As I improved on my persuasive essays, it began getting easier to develop ideas and set a theme to my writing. In the beginning it was harder to get all of my thoughts together and make my paragraphs flow. Now that I’ve mastered writing persuasive essays, my ideas flow together without taking too much time trying to fix the way my sentences formed. In the beginning of the first marking period, we were assigned to answer short constructed answers in the form of a paragraph essay. As difficult as it was in October, it is much easier now that I have many techniques I could use in writing. In the “The Autobiography” We explained the different perspectives the author, Benjamin, Franklin spoke in. It was a very complex assignment because we were limited to a paragraph. Trying to put down sentences to explain what my point was was very difficult because my sentences were not constructed properly. Throughout marking period two, I mastered writing short answers without going off topic and creating run on sentences. I learned how to place my sentences in the order which they make sense and most......

Words: 287 - Pages: 2

In the National Gallery Doris Lessing

...Time can manipulate and beautify even the harshest of memories. Love in particular is almost always better and more powerful in retrospect than when it actually happened. That one beautiful girl that broke your heart many years ago. Memories that are a part of you, and have helped shape you later in life. You have learned from them, drawn from the experiences and accepted how love, and indeed life, works. They have taught you to appreciate what you have, and know what you have lost. These are some of the topics put forward in the short story “In the National Gallery” by Doris Lessing. We follow the narrator (whose gender is unknown to the reader, though I will assume it is Doris Lessing and therefore refer to the narrator as “she”) into an art gallery. The intention is to sit in the middle of the room and spend an hour just looking at a single painting. This painting turns out to be a painting of a chestnut horse painted by George Stubbs. It is a huge painting of a big red horse. “And there it was, the Stubbs chestnut horse, that magnificent beast, all power and potency, and from the central benches I could see it well.” L. 4. The narrator assumed she would be all alone in observing the painting, but soon a man sits down near her. He is about sixty years old and seems very absorbed in the painting. Moments later he is joined by a younger man, who is evidently his student, or younger family member. He starts telling him about the painting, which results in the younger man......

Words: 1182 - Pages: 5

English Essay

...Essay summary: Suki Kim’s “Facing Poverty with a Rich Girls Habits” Facing Poverty with a Rich Girls Habits is an insightful essay published in New York by the author Suki Kim. In this essay, she shares various challenges that she had to overcome in order to adapt to a new life of poverty and cultural diversity in New York after leaving behind her affluent and luxurious life in South Korea. This article discusses the author’s point of view as 13-year-old Korean immigrant who moved to United States out of desperation and financial tragedy rather than in search of a better life. The author’s main idea in this essay is to convey the message that the foundation of divided immigrant groups, cultural differences and generation gap are so deeply rooted even in the United States that it is impossible to eradicate them from the mindset of people. The author emphasizes on the fact that her wealthy and sheltered background in Korea created confusion. Thus, making it difficult for her to identify with people’s perception of her race in America “One new fact that took more time to absorb was that I was now Asian, a term that I had heard mentioned only in social studies class”, stated author Suki Kim in her article. She continued, “In Korea, yellow was the color of the forsythia that bloomed every spring along the fence that separated our estate from the houses down the hill. I certainly never thought of my skin as being the same shade.” The author struggled to accept the fact......

Words: 804 - Pages: 4

English Essays

...her skal du slå op i din grammatikbog (12:4 betyder kap. 12, regel nr. 4), læse og finde ud af, hvad du har gjort galt, og derefter rette din fejl. (det kan også være at du skal blive bevidst om et eller andet, så vil der stå en kommentar efter. ) Grå er uklart, uelegant, eller tæt-på-uforståeligt sprog. Her skal du i en parentes ved siden af, skrive en rettet version som tydeligt kommunikerer din tanke. Det med fed blå skrift er ting jeg har rettet – en foræring betyder, at du har lavet noget, der er SUPER godt! Florianne by David Woodrell (Essay) The loss of someone, especially one’s own flesh and blood like a daughter, is a hard thing to deal with. In the story the narrator experiences a lack of closure, after the disappearance of his daughter. When we focus on a loss and the lack of closure, the ability to deal with it becomes weaker. Woodrell exemplifies this with utter realism. This essay will be focusing of characterization of the narrator, analysis of the setting etc. , is even harder, to deal with pain you are going through (noget galt her.. kommateringen forstyrrer også..). It is as if you are in your own inner circle WHILE everyone else is outside having no idea, what you are going through and you have that constant desperate feeling, that you want the person you have lost to come back to you(slettes) (du sætter ALT for mange kommaer, og de virker forstyrrende. Skriv kortere, tydeligere sætninger – men kig på kommareglerne s. 94-97).......

Words: 1803 - Pages: 8

Essay on English

...Argumentative Essay: Why is it so Important to Know More than One Language We live in a multilingual world that is becoming increasingly globalized and it is therefore very important to know more than one language. There are three main reasons for this: an additional language can help you progress in your career, you gain an awareness of other cultures, and it helps increase our understanding and knowledge of our own language. More and more job advertisements are now specifying that they want second, third, and even fourth languages in some cases, and knowing more than one language opens up your prospects in a highly important way. Furthermore, as more and more companies begin to trade internationally, people are frequently beginning jobs for which they need no language skills, but then being asked to relocate abroad, or offered a promotion that requires language skills. Therefore, it helps with career enhancement. Some people refute this claim by saying that there are plenty of other jobs available, but this is simply not the case anymore with the global recession and more countries being international. The second reason that it is important to know more than one language is that it increases cultural awareness and allows you to communicate with different people. All good methods of learning languages also entail learning about another culture, especially when your language skills get to a higher level. This awareness allows people from different nationalities and......

Words: 618 - Pages: 3

English Essay and as I said earlier he is rather extravagant in praising her motherly and other qualities.Perhaps my mother does have her own share of weaknesses but I am not conscious of them. To me she is as close to perfection as anything in the world can be. I believe that in any family, it is the mother that keeps the members of the family happy and together. In my family, she succeeds amply. | The New Teacher |   | It would be hard to take over Mr Singh's place. He was our English Literature teacher and he often entertained us with his jokes. He had been transferred to another school, and we would be getting a new teacher.When she walked into the classroom, I heard a few girls giggling. Miss Rahman the new teacher looked very ordinary. In fact, she was rather thin and short. Some of the girls commented that she did not wear make-up at all. But as the saying goes "don't judge a book by its cover." On her first day. Miss Rahman introduced herself briefly and explained how she would approach teaching English Literature. She told us that she wanted it to be a "living" subject because human life is complex and wonderful. We could all learn about life from stories written by great writers.She also asked us to write on a piece of paper a short description of what we each like and dislike, and what we want our lives to be. When we handed it back to her. I thought that this exercise would end up like the others before. It would be forgotten by us as well as by the teacher. But Miss......

Words: 24286 - Pages: 98

English Essay

...provoking. My main objective would be to read these noteworthy books, and then draft my papers and essays to reflect how that particular author wrote. At that point I became so determined to create remarkable literature that I began to practice by writing in my journal every night. My writings would run the gamut-from the somewhat dull day to day activities I engaged in to what the latest hot gossip in school was. When it came time to writing papers in middle school I was certain I had it nailed down, that I would always get an A+ on my writing. So when some teachers did and others did not, I didn’t understand? I was heartbroken, thinking that I had done everything I could possibly do by creating interesting stories so they would be amazed at how well I could transcribe. But the real challenge arose when I got into high school. Although I had made it into AP English, it was ten times harder than I had ever expected. Coming from a small school where your class size is made up of only 23 students, being accepted into a class like that was a huge accomplishment, but also overwhelming. We began reading stories and books that I had absolutely no understanding of. So when asked to write long essays focusing on our opinions and views of these stories, mine could be written in just a few sentences. I simply did not understand them, and my writing ultimately revealed that. Being in an advanced English class, our teacher not surprisingly expected the work of advanced students, and for......

Words: 1220 - Pages: 5

Flights Essay

...The world has seen an enormous increase in flights for leisure, business and commercial purposes around the world over recent years. What do you think are the most advantages and disadvantages of such fights? Do you think flights should be taxed more? Over the last few decades, flights have become one of the most popular transports that bring benefits and have clear advantages to leisure, business and commerce. However, some disadvantages have already emerged and caused various concerns that will be discussed in this essay. Travelling by air for leisure purposes is a very practical means of transport, because it enables people to spend less time on the way to their destinations and they do not face time-consuming problems. In addition, flights are so flexible and convenient that they can be booked and rejected at any time. For instance, if anyone has intention to travel from Singapore to New York lots of airline companies offer their services with regard to client’s demand. Likewise, there are several commercial benefits as well. Exotic products and fresh fruits that are common in today’s markets are brought by airplane and consumers have gained the opportunity of buying them reasonably in good condition. Despite the above-mentioned advantages, flights raise some drawbacks that encourage to be reconsidered. First of all, airplanes burn much more fuel than other transports and produce harmful gases that result in environmental pollution. For example, acid rain which......

Words: 333 - Pages: 2

English Essay

...Chantal Badie Islamic Extremists English 135-Advanced Composition Devry University Dr. Ralph Monday April 7, 2011 Islamic Extremists Nearly everyone has heard about Islam and the Arab world. In addition, many countries have already faced issues with the Muslim believers. Islam has caused problems, terrorist attacks, anti-democracy all over the world. They were also very successful in sending a message of who they truly are. People who are literally obedient to the Islamic faith are called Islamic Extremists. People, who are of the Islamic faith however desire to survive in peace without tribulations are not considered obedient or dutiful to the Islamic faith, these people are called moderate Muslims. Therefore, the Islamic religious extremists are the major group in Islam who follow the Qur’an word for word and create extreme violence that moderate Muslims do not. Islamic extremism started in Egypt in the late 1920s. During the inter-war years, the country was occupied by the British military. The Nationalist Wafd movement, led by Saad Zaghloul, opposed the presence of the British, as would anyone whose country is being occupied by a foreign military power. (A brief history of Islamic extremism) In 1928, Hassan al-Banna established the term “The Muslim Brotherhood” which was the first Islamist movement. The British government supported the nascent movement in an attempt to counterbalance the Nationalists. In modern Egyptian politics, the Muslim Brotherhood is the......

Words: 2713 - Pages: 11

M&M Essay

...Running head: M&M PROJECT REPORT Abstract This paper examines the proportion of M&M candies through the random sampling of 156 bags. After reading this paper one should have a better understanding of the process that accompanies packaging M&M candies. The bags used in the experiments were taken from different stores to help ensure a true sample of all the 1.69 oz of plain M&M candies. Introduction: Purpose of Report The purpose of this report is to examine the five project parts of an M&M analysis and examine a method for quality control. The parts of this project included using random sampling to gather data on the number of colored M&M candies, the sample proportion and sample mean, constructing a 95% confidence interval and testing claims of M&M candies. By the end of this report a better understanding of the methods behind packing M&M candies should be gained.  Project Part 1: Sampling Method To begin the M&M analysis a random sample of three 1.69oz bags of plain M&M candies where purchase by each individual students from three different stores. A random sample ensures that every member of the population has a chance to be selected. The population in statistics refers to the “collection of all outcomes, responses, measurements, or counts that are of interest (Larson, & Farber, 2009).” Buying bags from different stores assures a true sample of the population of all 1.69 oz bags of plain M&M candies. Once bags were......

Words: 1210 - Pages: 5

English Essay

...When a student needs to write an English essay for an English class, one good way to learn what types of information should be included in the document and for how the article should be laid out is to look for free English articles that provide some guidance. A free English essay may help a learner to understand what an English report should look like, especially if the student has never had to produce an essay for an English class or if the student is a new college student and is curious about how a college-level English report should look. There are many reasons that a student may need to use a free English article. Aside from using free English essays to learn and improve their writing skills, some students look for free English essays in order to research a topic that they are studying. The student may also look for a free English essay in order to use the report as a basis for his or her own document. If a student is looking for a free English essay to use as a research document or as a basis for his or her own document, then the student needs to first understand what the topic of his or her assignment is so that the pupil can be sure that the reports he or she finds suit the needs of the topic. For example, if a student needs to write an essay on Hamlet, the student should look for articles that were written on the topic of Hamlet. The student should not use an article that was written on Othello or on the life and times of William Shakespeare. Therefore, it...

Words: 441 - Pages: 2

This guide should help you study Flight. It should be useful to students from all parts of the world, though I have written it specifically to support students in England and Wales preparing for GCSE exams in English and English literature. It may also be helpful to the general reader who is interested in the stories of Doris Lessing.

Flight was published in 1957, in a collection of short stories entitled The Habit of Loving.

The author, Doris Lessing was born in 1919, in Khermanhah in Persia (now Iran). Her parents were British. At six years old, she moved to Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia), where she attended a girls' school. In 1949, she moved to London, where her first novel, The Grass is Singing, was published in 1950.

What happens in Flight?

An old man (unnamed) who keeps pigeons, worries about his granddaughter, . He has seen his other granddaughters leave home, marry and grow up, and he is both possessive of Alice and jealous of , her boyfriend. (He disapproves of Steven's appearance and his father's job.) The old man argues with Alice about her behaviour, and complains to his daughter, Alice's mother ().

At the start of the story the old man shuts up his favourite pigeon, rather than let it fly. But when Steven, the boyfriend, makes him a present of a new pigeon, he is more able to accept what is going to happen, and he lets his favourite go. The ending of the story is ambiguous (it has more than one possible meaning): Alice has tears on her face, as she stares at her grandfather. But we do not know if they are for him, for Steven, for herself or for some other cause. And we do not know if they are tears of joy or sadness or some other feelings.

The themes of this story

Is this a story about an old man who receives a present from his granddaughter's boyfriend? In one way, of course it is. But is this all? Or does this outward or surface narrative lead into another? Leaving home and becoming independent are things which most people face sooner or later. They can be alarming, but they are natural and almost inevitable.

Sometimes this kind of story is described in the phrase - which fits narratives about growing up, moving on and life-changes. This should make it a very suitable story for young people preparing for exams: Alice's situation will be one that you face now or will face soon. How do you feel about this prospect? Is it scary, or exciting or both?

The characters in the story

This is a very short story, so it does not have fully developed characters as we might meet in a novel or one of Shakespeare's plays. Doris Lessing tells us only what we need to know (and perhaps misses lots of things we might like to know). So who are these characters?

The old man

The central character in the story has no name. Why might this be? Does it make him seem less of an individual, or perhaps make him seem more universal, like someone we might know? Or can you think of any other reason for his not being named?

We know that he is Alice's grandfather, and that he feels possessive towards her. We know also that he keeps pigeons. The story is told largely from his viewpoint and whatever it means, it is certainly in some way about his learning or accepting things about Alice.


Alice is the old man's granddaughter. She is a young woman but he still sees her as a child - or would like to do so. She looks young and sometimes acts in a carefree way, but mostly she has a serious and grown up wish to marry her boyfriend, and settle into a domestic routine.


Lucy is the old man's daughter and Alice's mother. She is depicted as a grown up in her appearance ("square-fronted"), her actions (she looks after her father) and the way in which her father thinks of her (“that woman”). Her husband is absent (perhaps she is a widow or divorcee, but there is no evidence to tell the reader more, save that it is Lucy who gives Alice permission to marry). But we know that Lucy married at seventeen “and never regretted it”. She tries to reassure the old man about Alice. She has already agreed to her marrying Steven, and tells her father this in the story.


Steven is Alice's boyfriend. In the story we see him through the old man's eyes. The old man finds things wrong with him (his red complexion, his physical appearance and his father's job). The reader is not likely to share this disapproval. Lucy expects him to be as good a husband as her other three girls have. And he is thoughtful enough to give the old man a present of a pigeon.

The setting - time and place

Doris Lessing grew up in Zimbabwe, in southern Africa. Yet the setting of this story could almost be anywhere, except for a few clues. One is the wooden at the front of the whitewashed house. Another, which is repeatedly mentioned, is the tree. (This species of tree takes its name from an Italian perfumier; the scent of the blossom supposedly resembles one of his perfumes.) But many details make the story seem almost English in its setting. Some of these are listed below. Can you think of others?

  • the valley, the earth, the trees;
  • the dovecote;
  • Lucy's sewing;
  • plates and cups of tea;
  • Steven's father's job - he is a “postmaster”

Perhaps more important is the time in which this story is set. Although the narrative seems quite modern in showing a young woman about to leave home, the attitudes of the grandfather are more traditional. He wants to keep his grandchild at home, and spoil her as his favourite. Although Alice will not give in to the old man's wishes, she still shows respect for him.

Doris Lessing's technique

refers to the way an author writes - not what he or she says, but it is said.

Body language - actions and gestures

This is a story in which attitudes appear often in actions. For example, when her grandfather shouts: “Hey!” Alice jumps. She is alarmed, but then becomes evasive, as we see when her “eyes veiled themselves”. She adopts a neutral voice and tosses her head, as if to shrug off his confrontational stance. When he thinks of Steven the old man's hands curl, like claws into his palm. When Steven gives the old man the present of a new pigeon both Alice and her boyfriend try to reassure the old man:

“They hung about him, affectionate, concerned�They took his arms and directed him�enclosing him, petting him...”

Here we find another reference to eyes - they are “lying happy eyes”, telling the old man that nothing will change, when he and they know this is false. At the end of the story Alice is “wide-eyed” while tears run down her face. Earlier it was the old man who was crying at the thought of losing her. What do her tears mean at the end of the story? Perhaps she knows that she really is to be married, and she, too, is now sad at the end of childhood.

When Lucy shades her eyes with her hand, she is genuinely interested in the Flight of the pigeons, but she has not let go of her domestic routine - her hand still holds her sewing. She waits on her father - “brought him a cup, set him a plate” but lets him know that she will not give in to his demands, when she takes up her sewing.


This story is dramatic. A lot of it is in the form of conversation. While Lucy is calm and reasonable, the old man and Alice quarrel like children. Note how the old man asks questions with the word “Hey” - “Waiting for Steven, hey?”and “Think you're old enough to go courting, hey?”. His threats are childish: “I'll tell your mother” and “I see you!”


Doris Lessing uses in the story to reinforce details of the scene (sunlight, the frangipani tree, the veranda, Lucy's sewing) or to identify people (“the postmaster's son” and “his daughter” or the “woman”).

There are also many references to people's - to eyes, legs and hair. Is there a reason for this? Do they show us people as they really are (as we might see them if we were present)? Or do they show us people as the old man sees them? Is his noticing Alice's “long bare legs” a bit disturbing - we perhaps think he should not see her in such a way.

are very important here. Many of them are to natural things. Alice's long legs are likened to the frangipani stems - "shining-brown" and fragrant. The old man's fingers curl like claws (an image which suggests his own pigeons). Later Alice and Steven tumble like puppies - they are not yet enjoying adult pleasure but their play is a preparation for what comes later.

Sometimes a single word tells us a great deal: when the old man talks of “courting” he reveals the gulf between himself and Alice. She is struck by the “old-fashioned phrase”.


This story is very obviously one where symbolism is important to our understanding. Alice is clearly likened to the favourite pigeon. The old man can keep the bird in, where he cannot control Alice. But when he receives the new pigeon, he is able to release the favourite: he accepts that shutting it in is not right. The gift also suggests that there may be some compensation for the old man in the new situation. But really he knows that nothing can make up for the loss of his last grandchild.

Studying Flight for English literature

This section of guidance will help you if you are preparing coursework for assessment in . For most students there will be little or no difference between what you do for English and what you do for literature. In the UK these are seen as different subjects, with slightly different emphases. For you are expected to understand the meaning and implications of a text. For , you will be expected to look more thoroughly at attitudes, techniques, implications and effects of language. This section of guidance should show you some things for which examiners may be looking. For guidance on studying Flight for English exams, click here.

Attitudes in the text

In this story the attitudes we learn about most clearly are those of the old man - we see most things through his eyes. Doris Lessing gives us his view as the starting point or reference point. We can see Alice's and Lucy's not through narration or description - only in what they say to him. Steven's viewpoint is almost invisible. The only clue is his gift - but Alice may have encouraged him to give the present.

Attitudes behind the text

How far does the story show (or suggest) assumptions about the world that the author makes? Are we encouraged to see any character's view as being the "right" one to accept? This is a world where men and women seem to have clearly defined rôles - can you see evidence of this?

Attitudes in the reader

Can you find any evidence of what Doris Lessing assumes about her readers? This may appear in things she explains and things she doesn't explain. For a South African reader a frangipani tree is probably a common sight, but it may seem exotic to a European reader.

One way to check this is to make a list of things you did not at first understand, or which you had to ask about. If Doris Lessing wrote the story today or for a particular audience, what might she wish to change?

The author

If you write (or talk) about this story, try to be aware that it has an author. Suppose that the events in it had really happened. Why would Doris Lessing choose to relate the things she does, while missing out others?

For example, why is Steven almost written out of the story? In the real world, all these people would be equally important as human beings. So why are they not equal as fictional characters?

Does the story reflect a woman's view of the world, in your opinion? If you did not know, could you guess the sex of the writer? How?

Why does the author write so much about details of the natural world? Is this a story about nature for its own sake, or more about nature as a way of seeing human nature? Or is it something else?

How far does the author tell the reader how to interpret the story? How far does she leave us alone to judge for ourselves?


It is easy to make comparisons in the story. We are led to make comparisons between these things, among others:

  • the attitudes of the old man and Alice
  • the arguments of the old man and Lucy about Alice's marrying
  • the old man's ideas of his granddaughters before and after marriage
  • Alice and the favourite pigeon
  • sunlight and warmth at the start and dusk and cold at the end of the story
  • The old man's initial defiance and eventual acceptance of Steven's courtship of Alice

Can you think of any others? You can also, of course, compare this story with others that have a similar theme - stories about growing up, gaining independence and leaving home.

Implied meaning

Are there any things in the story that are not what they at first seem? Are there situations that are gradually revealed to be other than what first appears? For example, does the reader at first accept the old man's judgement of Steven, then learn what is wrong with it?

Do we foresee that the old man will accept the loss of Alice? How do you respond to the ending of the story, where the old man is smiling proudly at his new pigeon's Flight, while tears run down Alice's face.

Readers and reading
Reading the text

Say what you think the story means in a literal sense and in terms of theme, character and setting. Look at details of imagery, language and symbolism.

Reading the author

Try to explain what, in your view, the author wants us to think at various points. In doing this you should refer to her narrative methods.

Reading your own reading

Be prepared briefly to explain your own understanding of the story, and how this changes while you are reading it for the first time, and also on subsequent readings, where you notice more details.

Studying Flight for reading coursework in English

This section of guidance will help you if you are preparing coursework for assessment in . For most students there will be little or no difference between what you do for English and what you do for English literature. In the UK these are seen as different subjects, with slightly different emphases. For you are expected to understand the meaning and implications of a text. For , you will be expected to look more thoroughly at attitudes, techniques, implications and effects of language. This section of guidance should show you some things for which examiners may be looking. For guidance on studying Flight for English literature exams, click here.

If you are preparing work for English, it is likely that you will want to compare Flight to one or more other texts. Try to choose texts with an appropriate theme or subject.

Subject, implications and moral and philosophical context
  • In your own words explain Alice's relationship with her grandfather.
  • How does the old man feel about Alice's marrying?
  • How does he feel about Steven at the start and at the end of the story?
  • Try to explain how the old man comes to accept the inevitability of Alice's marrying.
  • As you read the story, do you identify with the old man, with Alice or some other character?
Style, structure, narrative craft
  • This story, though written in the third person, is told almost entirely from the old man's point of view. How does this affect our reading of it?
  • How does Doris Lessing suggest other viewpoints?
  • Look at the descriptions the writer gives of Steven, Alice and her sisters, not as they are, but as the old man sees them. How do these affect the reader's response. (See, for instance, the paragraphs beginning at lines 12 ["His eyes travelled"], line 96 ["He thought of the other three girls�"] and line 37 ["Her smile made him see her�"].
  • Comment on the structure of the story - how Doris Lessing makes the narrative about Alice parallel the secondary narrative about the pigeon.
Effects of language for emotive, ironic, figurative effect;
patterns and details of language
  • Comment on the symbolism of the story's title. Why is Flight a perfect title for this story?
  • Explain how the old man's speech is important in the story. Consider the words he speaks to Lucy, to Alice and to the pigeon.
  • Both Alice and the old man cry in the story, but Doris Lessing does not tell us directly. How do we know they cry, and why is it important?
  • How does the word "courting" (l. 33) show the generation gap in the story?

  • Use the search box on the left or the link below to go to for books, video tapes, DVDs and much more.
  • Go to Home Page

Categories: 1

0 Replies to “Doris Lessing Flight Essay Format”

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *