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In the short story "Flight" by Alice Lessing, it's the story of an old man who raises homing pigeons for a hobby and who constantly worries about his last granddaughter, Alice, leaving and getting married to the postmaster's son, Steven. The old man is very overprotective and also possessive of his daughter. In a way, the grandfather is also jealous of Alice's fianc, Steven. The Old man argues with Alice about her behaviour when Steven is with her and he complains to his daughter, Alice's mother, Lucy.
In this story, Lessing wanted to show that part of growing up is leaving "the nest" and becoming more independent. Another part of growing up is letting go and moving on with ones life. Lessing uses a lot of techniques and devices in this short story like setting, point of view and symbolism. The setting of this story plays an important role in learning where the story takes place in, when the story takes places and what the social environment was in the story. Lessing didn't actually mention directly the setting of "Flight" but Lessing did leave a couple of clues to figure out the setting.
Many of the details in the story could mislead us into thinking that the story took place somewhere English. For example; serving tea and Lucy's sewing. Actually the story takes in places in South Africa. The clue which tells the true setting of story is frangipani tree which is repeatedly mentioned throughout the story. The time of the story was harder to figure out since there weren't a lot of details mentioning this but the vocabulary used in the story was one clue. Words like postmaster and dovecote were some of the words use in the story.
The social environment of "Flight" could also tell the time of the story like for instance the grandfathers attitude is more traditional. "Flight" is written in the third person but is it told through out the entire from the old man's point of view. At the beginning of the story, the grandfather was obviously very happy with his homing pigeons. His mood changes when he sees his last granddaughter swinging on the gate, waiting for his soon-to-be husband, Steven. We clearly see this sentiment when he takes his favourite pigeon and he prepares to let it go and he suddenly catches the pigeon before it was about to take flight and he puts the bird back into the cage and locked it.
His attitude towards his granddaughter can be perceived somewhat childish when the old man said to her granddaughter: "I'll tell your mother!" He acted like a child because he didn't want to lose his last granddaughter. He already had experienced something like this one since his three other daughters already left the house and got married. He just wanted his last granddaughter to stay with and not to be left alone like her other sisters. Symbolism is another technique that's greatly used in "Flight." The most significant symbol in the story is obviously the pigeons. The old man's favourite pigeon represents Alice. He caged his favourite pigeon because he was scared that it " ll will never comeback and leaves him.
With pigeon caged, he would have total control over it. He wanted to do the same thing with his granddaughter but since he knows he can't do that, he does it to his favourite pigeon. Another symbol in the story is the gate in which the granddaughter was swinging on. That could represent a gateway to new beginnings.
Another symbol of a new life is the garden where the couples were talking. A garden always makes new life and that's what the couple are starting. At the end, when Steven gave the old man a young pigeon, he finally realises that he could finally release his favourite pigeon and keep the new one to remind him of his last daughter. But he also realised that he could release the new pigeon representing his granddaughter.
By releasing the pigeon he finally accepts losing his granddaughter but he also realises that in doing so he is also moving on too. At the end of the story, Alice started crying when she saw her grandfather release the young and untrained pigeon. We do not actually know if those are tears of joy or of sadness but by accepting the marriage of his granddaughter possibility of losing her, this has helped him move on with his life.
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