"A Woman on a Roof,"" written by Doris Lessing, has its focus the characters of Tom, Stanley and Harry, and their interaction with an unknown woman on a roof. On .
the whole, the exchange between the men and the woman is rather one-sided, with the woman choosing to completely ignore the jeering men. Each man displays a varied response to the unresponsive woman. Tom, the youngest of the three, is fascinated by and infatuated with the woman, while Stanley, a newlywed in early adulthood, is angered and insulted by the woman's indifference towards them. Harry, the oldest of the group at 45, on the other hand is more respectful of the woman. Each man's reaction to the woman is guided by his personality and level of understanding, and therein lie the reasons behind their behavior.
Initially Tom's reaction to the woman is insulting. Following Stanley's example he "whistles and yells (608)- at her hopping to trigger a response. However, as the story develops, Tom's attitude towards the woman evolves to one of fascination: "Tom thought she looked like a poster or a magazine cover, with the blue sky behind her and her legs stretched out (609)."" His emotions for the woman quickly develop into what he believes to be love: "The boy kept looking at him and wondered why he[Stanley] hated the woman, for by now he loved her (609)."" Tom becomes preoccupied with the woman, and his dreams of her kindness and tenderness lead him to believe that she may have similar feelings for him. Tom's overall reaction to the woman is typical of a 17 year old boy. He is also very impressionable, as many boys his age are, and his initial contempt for the woman was brought about by Stanley's example. Tom's frivolous belief in the woman's feelings towards him is a result of his inexperience and perhaps his youthful innocence. His nave personality is undoubtedly a product of his immaturity.
Stanley's reaction to the woman on the roof is best described as primitive.