I have written and rewritten this entry so many times that it is no longer funny. So I shall get straight into the point. The beauty – which ironically the word beauty is the least appropriate word to describe the story – of “Ben in the World” is that Doris Lessing has created a main character so far fetched from the current reality (a yeti? a primate?), put this hideous being into an imperfect world of greed, abuse, violence, indifference, and desperation (a.k.a. our reality) and you wonder, who or what is more hideous? The main character, Ben, or the rest of the scumbags? And because Ben is so out-of-this-world, it gets you curious in finding out who he is and what he is. But that is not all that “Ben in the World” has to offer. Just when you thought you have seen it all and let your common sense anticipates how the storyline unfolds, you are vastly disappointed. The storyline simply defies all expectations, fails to resolve the way you want it to be, and this frustration motivates you to make connection with the main character of the book and you wonder, who is more frustrated? You or Ben? And when you finish reading the very last sentence, it suddenly hits you. It is you whom Doris Lessing is talking to. It is you who should feel ashamed of being indifference to the less fortunate, physically and mentally challenged ones.
OK, I am ashamed of who I am.
I think what Doris Lessing does is witty. Through the little actions and conversations of her characters, she invokes metaphors that aid self-reflection. In “The Fifth Child”, the focal point is onto Ben’s family, especially his mother Harriet. I must say while I view “The Fifth Child” as a story with a powerful plot that comes down to maternal love, unconditional love, I was greatly curious about what this abnormal child of Harriet really like. What pleases him? What does he want in life? How does he perceive external environment? Is he evil? And “Ben in the World” picks up where “The Fifth Child” leaves off. If the original story is about maternal love, unconditional love, I would say this sequel is about sympathetic love and desperation.
The last sentence of the book still lives vividly in my mind. Oh God, I want to unread that. PS. That sentence only makes sense if you read the book.
- The Cleft By Doris Lessing – Drop All That You Know And Start Over
- Mara And Dann By Doris Lessing – An Adventure Of A Sister And A Brother During The Next Ice Age
- Doris Lessing – The Story Of General Dann And Mara’s Daughter, Griot And The Snow Dog
- The Fifth Child By Doris Lessing – Horror Or Tragedy? You Decide
- Ben In The World By Doris Lessing – Sympathetic Love And Desperation Mashed Into One