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Dorris Lessing Essay, Research Paper

Dear Ms. Doris Lessing,

I just finished reading the short story you wrote, The Woman on the Roof and I must say that I was rather confused about its meaning. Perhaps I was not looking deep enough into the story, but all I got out of it was that there was a woman tanning on the roof being harassed by disrespectful men.

In fact, I was somewhat offended. Being that I am a woman myself, I was disturbed at the fact that the woman tanning on the roof did not do anything about these men who were insulting her very being. She continued to tan on the roof every day knowing that they would be out there to harass her. Why didn t she say anything to them? Why did she continue to tan on the roof everyday even though she knew they would be there waiting for her? It just does not seem to make any sense to me. The fact that she did not say anything or do anything about these men makes her look somewhat like a whore or a slut who wanted to show off her half naked body to a group of chauvinist males.

Ms. Lessing, I have read some of your work before and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I was just curious as to why you would write a story about a woman who, in my belief, gives a bad name to all women in society.


Theresa O Donnell

Dear Ms. O Donnell,

I am very sorry that you found my story offensive, but that certainly was not its purpose. It seems as if you were focusing primarily on the tanning woman and not the men on the roof. The men on the roof were much more the center of the story then the tanning woman.

The men saw this woman tanning on her own roof on her own property. The first time they saw her the woman did not know they were going to be there. She was simply up there tanning as she probably had been doing for many years or for however long she has lived in that building. It was something she enjoyed doing. I specifically made it so that she did not respond at all to the roofers for a reason. If she had responded to them she would have been giving them the satisfaction of them knowing that she recognized them and that it bothered her that they harassed her. After all, the whole reason the men ever said anything was to get a reaction. They did not care if the reaction was positive or negative. They just wanted some sort of response.

The men thought that she owed them something. For whatever reasons they thought that the fact that they were working hard on the roof and she was relaxing and tanning meant that she owed them something for being up there.

I did not intend to portray the woman as a slut. Rather, I saw her as a strong individual who would not sacrifice her freedom to tan on her own roof and do as she pleased for the sake of a bunch of roofers who were convinced that she was somehow in debt to them.

I hope this clears up your questions and again I apologize.


Doris Lessing

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