Interpretation of the Memoirs of Survivors from the Perspective of Trauma Theory

Doris Lessing (19192013), a famous British female writer, won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2007. The Memoirs of Survivors is a realist fantasy novel created by Doris Lessing in the 1970s. Through the combination of reality and imagination, the author shows us the living conditions of people in the context of war. Many scholars at home and abroad interpret this work from Emily’s ethical choice, feminism, and self and self. This article intends to interpret Lessing’s hatred of war and the early warning of the recurrence of historical tragedy from the three aspects of painful experiences in childhood, growth accompanied by trauma, and thinking after trauma.

First, the painful experience of childhood

“Leising has complained that no one has noticed the subtitle of her novel: “The experiment of autobiography.” (Work Lili 350). “She had joked in her autobiography that it was the war that gave birth to her. Lessing said that her childhood was shrouded in the First World War, and her growth was covered by the Second World War.” (工丽丽89) The World War is the most influential thing in her life. In the book, Emily’s parents, including the family’s nanny, put more attention on Emily’s younger brother, and the neglect of the family caused great harm to Emily’s young mind. Emily was excluded from the good night ceremony. “They have forgotten that she was also taken to say good night to her father.” (41) The neglect of the family brought Emily a serious trauma. Freud believes that the life experience of an individual in his childhood has a significant impact on his growth and life. The traumatic experience of young children is much more frequent than we think.

During the youth of Lessing, her father often told her about his war, and she sometimes felt the fear of war. “This terrible thing made her realize that the war had an inestimable impact on her own life.” (Carolley Klein translated by Liu Xueyan, Chen Yuhong II) “The body twisted and ran away, escaping men hard Stretching in and touching the big hand of her ribs, escaping the cruel face that is so close to the self-satisfied expression. (82) Emily, even though she doesn’t like this “game”, has to cater to this tolerate her own torture. Man, because she is too lonely, she is eager to get attention even if this concern makes her suffer, “Only she can please the person who catches her” (82). This game made her feel helpless, but no one could help her.

Emily has also been abused by her family. Emily pulled the stool in the bed and applied the feces to her place. “The mother announced loudly and disliked the child over and over again” (138) denying the child’s existence, denying the value of her existence and denying her position in the home. “Hate, dirty, dirty, dirty, dirty, dirty, dirty, dirty, a dirty girl Emily, you are a dirty, disobedient child, really annoying, Emily, you It is a filthy and dirty girl” (139) Repeated words with aggravating tone left an indelible injury in Emily’s heart. Emily has always been cautious. In her subconscious mind, she feels that others don’t like herself. Even if she tries hard to express herself, others don’t necessarily like it, so she will have a double self. One is Emily, a former person. It was Emily when she was alone.

Second, the growth accompanied by trauma

Lessing personally experienced two world wars during the growth period, and the war brought her endless pain and panic. She witnessed the harm that war brought to her during her growth by witnessing the physical and mental feelings of Amy’s growing war. “We are living in a society of a certain anarchy.” (3) People’s disorderly state of life under the war conditions and the psychological state of people’s panic and uneasiness reflect the endless panic and injury brought by war. In an interview with the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1969, Lessing said: “The war has damaged humanity in some way. This is something we don’t want to admit.” (Wang Lili 90) The war has caused many young people to be homeless. “They are like a group of dogs gathered in a parking lot or in a derelict place.” The biggest harm in the war is actually children. They can’t cope with sudden wars and can’t guarantee the protection of their parents. They can only let them be abandoned. fate. “They seem to have no parents at all, and they have never felt the warmth of the family. Some children were born in the subway and abandoned.” (166) Even the author put the children’s words in quotes when describing the child’s living conditions. They are not like normal children in a war environment, they are like animals. Even Dennis, the “new kid” of Gerald, killed people at the age of four. They are not normal humans but a group of animals that have lost humanity. Humanity is completely annihilated in the war.

Third, thinking after trauma

“Lessing believes that although people are small, people are not passive people in a biological sense, as some humanists say, but interact with nature, society, and others. (“Wang Lili 117)) Emily’s desire to integrate into the collective desire to be recognized in the collective, the realization of self-worth in the group can help Emily find the value of life and get out of the trauma. “At this time she has a name on the other side, not only that, but she must also make herself feel that she is one of the founding members of this particular community: she has played a role in the formation of this community.” (67) Emily is very eager to get The recognition of this group, she sees herself as the founder of this wandering group, she has a sense of responsibility and feels her own value.

In the war environment, people evade war by means of migration, etc., and when they are in the past, they can restore their past lives. In the text, Lessing pointed out that “no matter what the situation, people can try to treat it as ‘daily life’. To be precise, it is this ability that gives a special flavor of that era: weird, fuss, panic, threat, and A besieged or wartime atmosphere is integrated with convention, normality, and even physicality.” (16) People always think of the war as a small episode in the long river of human civilization as if it were a natural disaster. Never reflect. Lessing here once again warned the war, as long as people’s thoughts do not change the war sooner or later will come again.


Lessing’s Memoirs of Survivors show us the childhood of Emily’s traumatic trauma, the growth of trauma and the reflection of war. Emily’s successful out-of-trauma incident is also a revelation for people, and the trauma gives us the positive and the value of living in the collective to find ourselves, will help us get out of the trauma as soon as possible. The trauma of war not only directly affects people living under the war but also indirectly affects their descendants. The trauma of war to destroy humanity for young people is an inevitable catastrophe for our social and social development. We must learn to reflect on war. War is not an occasional episode in the long river of human beings. We must see the devastating impact of war on human development. We must actively reflect on avoiding the recurrence of war and avoiding the recurrence of human disaster.