Debbie and Julie

This study guide will help you analyse the text “Debbie and Julie” by Doris Lessing. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, themes and message, and help you put the text in perspective.

Presentation of the text

Title: “Debbie and Julie”
Author: Doris Lessing
Published in: The Real Thing
Date of Publication: 1989
Genre: Short story

Doris Lessing (1919-2013) was a British author of short stories and novels. She was born in Iran, grew up in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and subsequently moved to the UK. Lessing was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007.


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To make the themes of the story more evident and to convey deeper meanings, the author also uses various symbols.

First of all, a lot of symbolism is built on contrast. The author contrasts Debbie’s flat with Julie’s home, Debbie’s towels with Anne’s towels, to suggest the differences between two social statuses. The different towels suggest the differences between cleanliness and dirtiness, between purity and impurity. The flat, the house, and the shed are symbolic of different degrees of intimacy and loss of innocence. Julie’s house is clean but emotionally sterile, Debbie’s flat is crowded and dirty but intimate. The shed is the more extreme version of loss of innocence as it is dirty and it is the only place where Julie shares an emotional moment with her daughter.

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Debbie and Julie

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