The fifth child by Doris Lessing

The fifth child by Doris Lessing. I got interested in this book after watching an interview with the author (Nobel Prize in Literature, 2007 ) where she said her original idea was to explore the possibility of hobgoblins living among people. Hobgoblins are mythical creatures in the British folklore.

The book is about a family in England in the 70’s.  As a young couple, Harriet and David buy a large house and  decide to have several childs. Everything goes fine at the beginning: a new baby is born and the family celebrates year after year, Christmas and Easter holidays, etc. Everyone is happy, until their fifth child is born: Ben

Ben is different and the family knew that even before he was born. As a baby, Ben’s aggressive behavior keeps the whole family scared of him and his mother soon realizes she cannot control him. Ben kills family pets and hurts his siblings and all this is amplified by the fact that Ben grows extremely fast and becomes physically very strong. At some point the family decides to take him to an institution where he is kept along with other baby-monsters. However, one day his mother goes to retrieve her son and takes him back home and then Ben starts causing problems again. Harriet hires  an unemployed youth to take care of Ben everyday. As Ben gets older, his new guardian and his acquaintances drive Ben to become a young gang member and the story ends by suggesting that he will face quite a hard life as an adult.

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