The fifth child






by Doris Lessing


James Lovatt                                         Molly           Frederick





Dorothy Walker                                                         

                                                                                  Luke ('66)

                                                                              Helen ('68)

                                                                             Jane ('70)

                                                                             Paul ('73)


                                     Sarah            William             Amy



David and Harriet got to know each other at  a party. Harriet never before fell in love with a boy bat at this party she fell in love with David.

Some time after, they married and bought a big house. Because of their mortgages of their house they got financial problems but James (David's father) helped them. Actually they wanted to get lots of children when Harriet had worked for 2 years but then she got pregnant earlier she wanted. Luke was an easy baby and when he was 3 months old, Harriet got pregnant again. Helen, the 2nd child was born in 1968.

On every Christmas and Easter it took a big family party part and therefore the house was full of people in this time and they often have often stayed for 3 weeks.

Dorothy always helped Harriet with the household, her pregnancy and her children. Later in 1970 Jane the 3rd child was born and in 1973 the 4th child, Paul, was born. With each pregnancy Harriet got more and more tired.

Once, James, Molly, Dorothy, Harriet and David talked about the education of the 4 children. Harriet preferred to let their children attend a local school but Molly wasn't satisfied with this decision. She meant that the children had to go to a private school because public education was awful.

Because of Harriet's tiredness she liked to make a rest in getting children but on Christmas 1973 she was pregnant again. The couple avoided telling Dorothy the situation and therefore Harriet got help of 3 young girls who had just left school. But they weren't a help.

Later Dorothy recognised that H. was pregnant so the 3 had a discussion  where Dorothy wanted that Harriet would get some help because she didn't expect to end her days at Harriet's and Sarah's home.

Christmas was coming and because of Harriet's hard pregnancy all the people helped with doing the household. Nevertheless they were joking about the influences of their bedroom.

Every new girl who should help in the household only enjoyed the parties and after that the found an excuse to leave the house.

Instead, Alice, a cousin of Frederick, came to help Dorothy.

Harriet couldn't sleep because of the energy of the foetus which seemed to be trying to tear its way out of her stomach. Therefore she begged tranquillisers from friends to quiet the foetus. Therefore the seventh month of pregnancy was better because of the amount of drugs she took. Immediately the foetus fought her, she took another dose.

Nearly a month early, the pains began and Harriet insisted on a hospital although all children before were born in the bedroom.

Ben, the 5th child was a muscular boy - a real wrestler. The family wasn't really happy with him because he was different and not ordinary : he didn't look like a baby does, he only kicked. Even breasts hurt Harriet and after 5 weeks she was going to put him in the bottle and everybody was frightened when Ben emptied the bottle in a moment. He needed more bottles than a "normal" baby and when somebody tried to cuddle him he only kicked. Harriet felt horror and soon she was shutting him up in his room away from everyone. He didn't seem to mind or even to notice.

Once, when Paul came into Ben's room to play with him, Ben sprained Paul's arm and because of this Alice left the house. After that Ben was almost always in his room - like a prisoner. Even bars were made up to his window. The next parties were fewer visited and people were afraid of Ben when he killed the dog and the cat of the family, although he was only 1 year old. Even Harriet was afraid of him, 'cause when he killed pets he also was able to kill a child.

After the family (without Ben - Dorothy stayed with him at home) had made a trip to France Dorothy insisted on giving Ben into an institution but they didn't do this 'cause Harriet meant Ben was normal.

She often spent her time with observing Ben, so Paul tried everything to get his mom's attention. Then, suddenly Ben began to talk. Later he also copied the movements of his sisters. Harriet thought he would become a sensible boy but when Dorothy came to talk with the couple, Ben threw some stones against her head.


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