n Mousaion - Adolescence, identity and the pastoral : Marguerite Poland's and Doris Lessing's




The two stories, 'Flavours of exile' by Doris Lessing and by Marguerite Poland, focus on the struggles of two teenage girls to establish their identity as they make the difficult transition from the world of childhood to adulthood. They often find themselves in a marginal position in relation to these worlds as they fluctuate between the two. A sense of identity usually goes with a sense of belonging, either in terms of social groups or place. When this sense of belonging is disturbed, the process of the construction of identity is impaired. As they negotiate their place in society, the adolescents confront changes in themselves and in their relationships with the opposite sex. At the same time, the environment of the farm gives them access to the natural world, which becomes a powerful force in their lives. Attitudes towards the natural environment, in terms of both its flora and fauna, vary considerably according to age, upbringing and ideology. Issues of race and class also have a major impact on identity formation, especially in the context of pre-liberation South Africa. My objective in this article is to show how these narratives present issues that are pertinent to adolescents, but which can also be appreciated by an adult readership because of the way they evoke a vivid sense of place in terms of both the natural and social landscape of rural Southern Africa.


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