She is struck by the old-fashioned phrase. Back to top Symbolism This story is very obviously one where symbolism is important to our understanding. Alice is clearly likened to the favourite pigeon. The old man can keep the bird in, where he cannot control Alice. But when he receives the new pigeon, he is able to release the favourite: he accepts that shutting it in is not right. The gift also suggests that there may be some compensation for the old man in the new situation. But really he knows that nothing can make up for the loss of his last grandchild. Back to top Studying Flight for English literature This section of guidance will help you if you are preparing coursework for assessment in gcse english literature.
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There are also many references to people's bodies - to eyes, legs and hair. Is there a reason for this? Do they show us people as they really are (as we might see them if we were present)? Or do they show us people as the old man sees them? Is his noticing Alice's long bare legs a bit disturbing - we perhaps think he should not see her in such a way. Comparisons are very important here. Many of them are to natural things. Alice's long legs are likened to the frangipani stems - "shining-brown" and fragrant. The old man's fingers curl like claws (an image which suggests his own pigeons). Later Alice and Steven tumble like puppies - they are not yet enjoying adult pleasure but their play is a preparation for what comes later. Sometimes a single word tells us a great deal: when the old man talks of courting he reveals the gulf between himself short and Alice.
When Lucy shades her eyes with her hand, she is genuinely interested in the Flight of the pigeons, but she has not let go of her domestic routine - her hand still holds her sewing. She waits on her father - brought him a cup, set him a plate but lets him know that she will not give in to his demands, when she takes up her sewing. Back to top dialogue this story is dramatic. A lot of it is in the form of conversation. While lucy is calm and essays reasonable, the old man and Alice quarrel like children. Note how the old man asks questions with the word hey - waiting for Steven, hey? And Think you're old enough to go courting, hey? His threats are childish: I'll tell your mother and I see you! Back to top Language doris Lessing uses repetition in the story to reinforce details of the scene (sunlight, the frangipani tree, the veranda, lucy's sewing) or to identify people (the postmaster's son and his daughter or the woman).
When he thinks of Steven the daddy old man's hands curl, like claws into his palm. When Steven gives the old man the present of a new pigeon both Alice and her boyfriend try to reassure the old man: They hung about him, affectionate, concernedThey took his arms and directed himenclosing him, petting him. Here we find another reference to eyes - they are lying happy eyes, telling the old man that nothing will change, when he and they know this is false. At the end of the story Alice is wide-eyed while tears run down her face. Earlier it was the old man who was crying at the thought of losing her. What do her tears mean at the end of the story? Perhaps she knows that she really is to be married, and she, too, is now sad at the end of childhood.
He wants to keep his grandchild at home, and spoil her as his favourite. Although Alice will not give in to the old man's wishes, she still shows respect for him. Back to top Doris Lessing's technique technique refers to the way an author writes - not what he or she says, but how it is said. Body language - actions and gestures This is a story in which attitudes appear often in actions. For example, when her grandfather shouts: hey! She is alarmed, but then becomes evasive, as we see when her eyes veiled themselves. She adopts a neutral voice and tosses her head, as if to shrug off his confrontational stance.
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Lucy expects him to be as good a husband as her other three girls have. And he is thoughtful enough to give the old man a present of a pigeon. Back to top, the setting - time and place. Doris Lessing grew up in Zimbabwe, in southern Africa. Yet the setting of this story could almost be anywhere, except for a few clues. One is the wooden veranda at the front of the whitewashed house.
Another, which is repeatedly mentioned, is the frangipani tree. (This species of tree takes its name from an Italian perfumier; the scent of the blossom supposedly resembles one of his perfumes.) But many details make students the story seem almost English in its setting. Some of these are listed below. Can you think of others? The valley, the earth, the trees; the dovecote; Lucy's sewing; plates and cups of tea; Steven's father's job - he is a postmaster Perhaps more important is the time in which this story is set. Although the narrative seems quite modern in showing a young woman about to leave home, the attitudes of the grandfather are more traditional.
Back to top, lucy. Lucy is the old man's daughter and Alice's mother. She is depicted as a grown up in her appearance square-fronted her actions (she looks after her father) and the way in which her father thinks of her (that woman). Her husband is absent (perhaps she is a widow or divorcee, but there is no evidence to tell the reader more, save that it is Lucy who gives Alice permission to marry). But we know that Lucy married at seventeen and never regretted.
She tries to reassure the old man about Alice. She has already agreed to her marrying Steven, and tells her father this in the story. Back to top, steven, steven is Alice's boyfriend. In the story we see him through the old man's eyes. The old man finds things wrong with him (his red complexion, his physical appearance and his father's job). The reader is not likely to share this disapproval.
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Or can you think of any other reason for his not being named? We know that he is real Alice's grandfather, and that he feels possessive towards her. We know also that he keeps pigeons. The story is told largely from his viewpoint and whatever it means, it is certainly in some way about his learning or accepting things about Alice. Back to top, alice, alice is the old man's granddaughter. She is a young woman but he still sees her as a child - literature or would like to. She looks young and sometimes acts in a carefree way, but mostly she has a serious and grown up wish to marry her boyfriend, and settle into a domestic routine.
How do you feel about this prospect? Is it scary, or essay exciting or both? Back to top, the characters in the story, this is a very short story, so it does not have fully developed characters as we might meet in a novel or one of Shakespeare's plays. Doris Lessing tells us only what we need to know (and perhaps misses lots of things we might like to know). So who are these characters? Back to top, the old man. The central character in the story has no name. Why might this be? Does it make him seem less of an individual, or perhaps make him seem more universal, like someone we might know?
themes of this story, is this a story about an old man who receives a present from his granddaughter's boyfriend? In one way, of course. But is this all? Or does this outward or surface narrative lead into another? Leaving home and becoming independent are things which most people face sooner or later. They can be alarming, but they are natural and almost inevitable. Sometimes this kind of story is described in the phrase rites of passage - which fits narratives about growing up, moving on and life-changes. This should make it a very suitable story for young people preparing for exams: Alice's situation will be one that you face now or will face soon.
At six years old, she moved to zimbabwe (then southern Rhodesia where she attended a girls' school. In 1949, she moved to london, where her first novel, The Grass is Singing, was published in 1950. Back to top, what happens in Flight? An old man (unnamed) who keeps pigeons, worries about his granddaughter, Alice. He has seen his other granddaughters leave home, marry and grow up, and he is both possessive of Alice and jealous. (He disapproves of Steven's appearance and his father's job.) The old man argues with father's Alice about her behaviour, and complains to his daughter, Alice's mother (. At the start of the story the old man shuts up his favourite pigeon, rather than let it fly. But when Steven, the boyfriend, makes him a present of a new pigeon, he is more able to accept what is going to happen, and he lets his favourite. The ending of the story is ambiguous (it has more than one possible meaning Alice has tears on her face, as she stares at her grandfather.
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Introduction, this guide should help you study. It should be useful to business students from all parts of the world, though I have written it specifically to support students in England and Wales preparing for gcse exams in English and English literature. It may also be helpful to the general reader who is interested in the stories of Doris Lessing. Flight was published in 1957, in a collection of short stories entitled. The habit of loving. The author, doris Lessing was born in 1919, in Khermanhah in Persia (now Iran). Her parents were British.