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Flight By Doris Lessing In the short story "Flight" by Alice Lessing, it's the story of an old man who

raises homing pigeons for a hobby and who constantly worries about his last granddaughter, Alice, leaving and getting married to the postmaster's son, Steven. The old man is very overprotective and also possessive of his daughter. In a way, the grandfather is also jealous of Alice's fianc, Steven. The Old man argues with Alice about her behaviour when Steven is with her and he complains to his daughter, Alice's mother, Lucy. In this story, Lessing wanted to show that part of growing up is leaving "the nest" and becoming more independent. Another part of growing up is letting go and moving on with ones life. Lessing uses a lot of techniques and devices in this short story like setting, point of view and symbolism. The setting of this story plays an important role in learning where the story takes place in, when the story takes places and what the social environment was in the story. Lessing didn't actually mention directly the setting of "Flight" but Lessing did leave a couple of clues to figure out the setting. Many of the details in the story could mislead us into thinking that the story took place somewhere English. For example; serving tea and Lucy's sewing. Actually the story takes in places in South Africa. The clue which tells the true setting of story is frangipani tree which is repeatedly mentioned throughout the story. The time of the story was harder to figure out since there weren't a lot of details mentioning this but the vocabulary used in the story was one clue. Words like postmaster and dovecote were some of the words use in the story. The social environment of "Flight" could also tell the time of the story like for instance the grandfathers attitude is more traditional. "Flight" is written in the third person but is it told through out the entire from the old man's point of view. At the beginning of the story, the grandfather was obviously very happy with his homing pigeons. His mood changes when he sees his last granddaughter swinging on the gate, waiting for his soon-to-be husband, Steven. We clearly see this sentiment when he takes his favourite pigeon and he prepares to let it go and he suddenly catches the pigeon before it was about to take flight and he puts the bird back into the cage and locked it. His attitude towards his granddaughter can be perceived somewhat childish when the old man said to her granddaughter: "I'll tell your mother!" He acted like a child because he didn't want to lose his last granddaughter. He already had experienced something like this one since his three other daughters already left the house and got married. He just wanted his last granddaughter to stay with and not to be left alone like her other sisters. Symbolism is another technique that's greatly used in "Flight". The most significant symbol in the story is obviously the pigeons. The old man's favourite pigeon represents Alice. He caged his favourite pigeon because he was scared that it'll will never comeback and leaves him. With pigeon caged, he would have total control over it. He wanted to do the same thing with his granddaughter but since he knows he can't do that, he does it to his favourite pigeon. Another symbol in the story is the gate in which the granddaughter was swinging on. That could represent a gateway to new beginnings. Another symbol of a new life is the garden where the couples were talking. A garden always makes new life and that's what the couple are starting. At the end, when Steven gave the old man a young pigeon, he finally realises that he could finally release his favourite pigeon and keep the new one to remind him of his last daughter. But he also realised that he could release the new pigeon representing his granddaughter. By releasing the pigeon he finally accepts losing his granddaughter but he also realises that in doing so he is also moving on too. At the end of the story, Alice started crying when she saw her grandfather release the young and

untrained pigeon. We do not actually know if those are tears of joy or of sadness but by accepting the marriage of his granddaughter possibility of losing her, this has helped him move on with his life.

The eccentric old man in Flight (Doris Lessing): An analysis


Doris Lessings "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 mans 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 postmasters 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 marriage, and eventually threatening to tell her mother when she disobeys him. How childish it is for such an old man, not to mention his being her grandfather, to behave like this! Moreover, how can a grandfather be jealous of his grand daughters boyfriend? Jealousy, possessiveness and selfishness have blinded him! The old man seems to isolate himself from everyone with his own way of thinking, which is considerably different from that of his daughter Lucy and of course, that of the young Alice. He expects Lucy, his daughter, to be on the same side with him, yet to his grief, the mother shows no objection to her daughters forthcoming marriage. He feels lost, and weeps eventually. Those are tears of anger, sadness and even of the fear of loneliness, for Lucy is his only hope to stand to his side. Tears shed on him again, though implicitly depicted, when he watches the young couple tumbling like puppies on the grass, after Steven has given him a bird as a gift. These, however, are tears of tolerance and acceptance, as he realizes the fact that Alice needs to fly and have her own life. He cannot keep her beside him forever. Then he comes to a tough decision: releasing his favorite. Though having clenched in the pain of loss, he manages to let the bird soar. Flight is written in third person, but most of the time it is told through the old mans point of view. Doris makes it this way deliberately for the readers to get the clearest view of the old mans mood, which keeps shifting from the beginning to the very end of the story. It makes us know how his mood has changed from being very happy with his favorite when the story begins to being extremely angry and resentful when seeing his granddaughter waiting for her husband-to-be. It also helps us know how he feels hurt and how his pride is wounded when everyone is against him. With this skillful technique and her great talent in utilizing symbolism, Doris Lessing has made the story a successful one, which leads readers to explore the world of inside heart feelings.

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