Doris Lessing’s 1962 short story “To Room Nineteen,” depicts the life of an increasingly unstable protagonist, Susan, in her home. In critiquing the fact that women are confined to the space of a home embodying patriarchal ideology and order, this story reveals that they are forced to adopt only a limited number of cultural identities that society has idealized for the female sex: in this cultural climate, they are restricted to performing the gender roles, rather than creating other identities beyond gender. This story can therefore be considered a social allegory suggesting one way in which a woman who occupies the ideological space of home — the realm constructed by male desires — inevitably fails in her attempt to discover her true self and to obtain a sense of freedom. This article argues that patriarchal forces are what constantly tie the story’s heroine to the space of home and frustrate her various attempts to escape it. To show how the narrative unfolds the violent impacts of home upon the woman, despite her struggle to escape the physical boundaries of her home, this article first examines the story’s presentation of the home as a constructed space by considering critical thoughts on space and ideology, then examines each of Susan’s attempts to escape from the space of home. Each attempt shows how the space of home, with the ideology of patriarchy embedded in it, frustrates the heroine’s efforts to free herself.


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pp. 31-52
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