In the National Gallery

In: Novels

In the National Gallery

”In the National Gallery”

Part A
”In the National Gallery” is a short story by Doris Lessing. Some people have already tried déjà vu, by looking at a picture or recognizable person, and it is also the case in this text. The story is also about the relationship between the younger and the older generation, and it shows which sort of respect and thoughts we have about each other.

The unknown narrator sits on a bench in a museum, looking at a painting of a chestnut horse by George Stubbs. Suddenly an elderly man who “… was about sixty years old, well dressed, a well-presented man absorbed in his contemplation” sits down beside the narrator, and after a while a second man who “… was younger by a good bit” arrives. The elderly man begins to talk about Stubbs the painter, and about the painted horses. Quickly he becomes interrupted by the younger man, with the phrase: “You can’t make a silk purse out of me, I keep telling you”. This phrase is a metaphor, which might describe the younger man’s identification problems. In that case, the elderly man instructs the younger man, and he replies with a backlash. He protests because he does not want to be affected by anyone, which turns the scene ugly.
After a while a group of French schoolgirls arrive. “They were not looking at it, or at any of the pictures, but talked so loudly and laughed, expecting attention, which they were giving”, this quote means that the girls do not show consideration to the adults who were concentrated on the picture with the horse. They only want attention, and therefore they do not care about the rest of the people in the room. This indifference might be a sign of disrespect, and it shows those presents that the girls do not care if the men cannot keep their concentration. The disrespect also appears when the leader of the group falls asleep on the bench beside the narrator and the old man: “Her mouth fell open, from astonishment probably, but that turned into another yawn and she fell...

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