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The Mother of the Child in Question Essay

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Puspus
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The Mother of the Child in Question, written by Doris Lessing, is a short story from 1988. The story is about a social worker, named Stephen Bentley, and his attempt to persuade a Pakistani family to send their youngest daughter to a special school because she is mentally retarded. The family in question is the Khans, an immigrant family consisting of Mr. & Mrs. Khan, their son Hassan, their daughter Shireen and two older daughters whom we do not hear anything specific about in the story. Mrs. Khan, the mother, will not realize that her daughter is not a normal girl, so she does everything she can to convince the social worker, Stephen Bentley, that there is nothing wrong with her daughter.

The family lives in a very poorly milieu in England. It is described as a lowly ranked social area where the hallways for example are described as urine smelling. The buildings are described as poor block buildings with many apartments where everything is grey concrete. Generally, these milieus take place in ghettos. Even though the family lives in a poor place, they still keep it clean and presentable with cramped furniture.

Steven Bentley, the social worker, is the main character in the story. The story is told through his eyes, thoughts and observations. He has been assigned the case of the Khan family, and has made preparations by phoning Mr. Khan the day before he shows up. As mentioned earlier, he wants to get Shireen into a special school for mentally retarded children. Hassan Khan, a young twelve year old boy; he welcomes Bentley in the door and later turns out to be present as an interpreter and representative of his father. His father did not show up for this encounter, even though he had promised to on the phone. Shireen, who is “the child in question”, is ten years old but has the mind of a two to five-year old child. Because of her condition, she does not really have contact to the outside world, not even her own...

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