Characterisation of Julie

Julie is the main character in the short story “Debbie and Julie” by Doris Lessing, whose thoughts and actions the narration follows. She is characterised mostly indirectly, through her actions, thoughts, and attitude.

Outer characterisation

Her outer characterisation presents her as a teenager and the only child of a British family, who has run away from home after finding out that she is pregnant. Several details about her physical portrait are conveyed throughout the short story, which present the way she looks and is dressed:

The fat girl in the sky-blue coat again took herself to the mirror. She could not keep away from it. Why did the others not comment on her scarlet cheeks, just like when she got measles, and her hair was stuck down with sweat? 

She combed her hair flat. Well, it wouldn’t stay flat for long: being naturally curled it would spring back into its own shape soon. 

Julie’s physical portrait conveys how physically difficult and traumatising giving birth can be. However, as she returns home after giving birth she is surprisingly well and to the other commuters she looks happy and healthy: “A plump fresh-faced girl in a damp sky-blue coat sat upright among the other home-goers, holding a carrier bag that had on it, written red on black, SUSIE’S STYLES! Her eyes shone. Her young fresh hair curled all over her head. She vibrated with confidence, with secrets.” 

At the end, she dresses up in her old colourful pyjamas which suggests that she tries to return to her former self and status as a child in her parents’ house: “O...

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