A. In The National Gallery
Time can manipulate and beautify even the harshest of memories. Particularly love is more or less always better and more commanding in retrospect than when it actually happened. Memories that are a part of you and have helped mold you later on in life. You have drawn from the experiences and accepted how love and especially life works – they have taught you to appreciate, what you have and most importantly – what you have lost.
These are some of the topics put forward in the short story, “In the National Gallery”, by Doris Lessing. We follow the narrator - whose gender is unknown to the reader, though I will assume it is Doris Lessing and therefore refer to the narrator as “she” – into an art gallery. The main characters intention is to sit in the middle of the room in the art gallery and spend an hour looking at a single painting. The painting that our main character chooses is a painting showing a chestnut horse, painted by George Stubbs. It is an enormous painting of a big red horse. “And there it was, the Stubbs chestnut horse, that magnificent beast, all power and potency, and from the central benches I could see it well.” The narrator assumed that she would be alone in observing the painting, but soon after a man sits down near her. He is an elderly man, about sixty years old and also seems very interested in the painting. Moments after, a younger man sits down, maybe his student, maybe a family member, and the old man starts telling him about the painting, which results in the younger man exclaiming that, “You can’t make a silk purse out of me, I keep telling you.” This shows us that the older man is trying to pass on some of his knowledge and experience, trying to teach the young man something. The younger man, however, is not interested in this and claims that he cannot be changed. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear – you cannot turn something bad into something good.
What the older man was trying...