The main themes of the short story “Debbie and Julie” by Doris Lessing are knowledge versus ignorance, and love and intimacy, as well as choices and their consequences. Using the topic of teen pregnancy, the author explores these themes by focusing on the impact of such an event on a teenager and by illustrating possible causes that led to the pregnancy and Julie’s subsequent actions (running away from home and abandoning her baby).

Knowledge versus ignorance 

The theme of knowledge and ignorance is illustrated through Julie’s character. Julie is a teenager who did not know much about life or intimacy. Brought up in a family deprived of affection, Julie ends up pregnant because she does not have a lot of knowledge about relationships and sexuality.

The boy who got Julie pregnant was not her boyfriend and it is possible that Julie was actually raped, because Julie claimed she did not want to have sex but the boy insisted: “It was four months after they had tussled and shoved and giggled, she saying No no, and he saying, Oh come on, then.” 

The same ignorance or lack of knowledge is illustrated when Julie enters la...

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