To Room Nineteen

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To Room 19 , Final draft
In the short story “To Room Nineteen” by Doris Lessing, Susan Rawlings is a woman living what seems like the perfect life with the perfect marriage. However, it soon becomes clear that Susan isn’t as happy with her life as one might think upon first glance. Slowly but surely, Susan begins to drift away from her home life in attempts to find freedom through solitude. This reaction can be analyzed by taking a closer look at how Susan relates to the places in her life such as her beautiful home with her family and the small hotel room to which she escapes. Reading the fifth chapter of Yi-Fu Tuan’s Space and Place alongside “To Room Nineteen” helps us to understand the counterintuitive notions of space and freedom Lessing describes in her story. In this way, Tuan’s insight helps us recognize Susan’s fear of responsibility and desire for freedom as they relate to the places in her life. From the outside, it seems as though Susan lives the ideal life with a big house and a beautiful garden for her children and loving husband. However, as the story progresses, we see that Susan becomes more and more “reluctant to enter her big beautiful home” (Lessing 530). This same attractive, picture-perfect house begins to push Susan away, for in it are the many responsibilities that come with adult-life and motherhood. The more these responsibilities weighed down on Susan, the more it felt “as if something was waiting for her there she did not wish to confront” (530). This seems strange because, typically, “spaciousness is closely associated with [freedom]” as Tuan explains in Space and Place (52). By this logic, one would think that Susan would feel plenty free in her big home with the spacious, lush garden to wander through. However, although “freedom implies space,” space does not always imply freedom (52). What Susan truly needed was space from her family, and freedom from her responsibilities. This becomes evident when Susan takes her vacation to the...
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