Lady Chatterley's Lover
by D.H. Lawrence
Lady Chatterley's Lover Chapter 11 Summary
- Connie and Mrs. Bolton are digging through one of Wragby's junk rooms, because that's what you have when you're an aristocrat—rooms and rooms full of junk. (We plebes have to make do with just a junk drawer.) She finds the Chatterley cradle, all carefully wrapped up, and admires it.
- To Mrs. Bolton's extreme surprise, Connie insists that she might actually have a baby someday.It's an idea Clifford has gotten into his head, that somehow he'll get his "potency" back.
- It sounds a little shady to Mrs. Bolton, but, you know, doctors can do amazing things these days—although she still suspects that Connie is planning to put a little Mellors child in the crib, which, pre-DNA testing and Jerry Springer, would have been possible.
- As the two women are digging through the room, they come across a kind of traveling box filled with a toiletries set, writing supplies, sewing notions, and medicine bottles.
Connie thinks it's hideous, but Mrs. Bolton loves it: it looks expensive. Here, Connie says: it's yours.
- When Mrs. Bolton gets home, she has some friends over to admire the box, like you do. While they're there, she drops hints that the Chatterleys are going to have a baby, and, sure enough, the news gets back to Clifford via the rector.
- Even old Squire Winter hears about it. He's an old-fashioned gent and comes to visit one afternoon to talk about the coal mines. Talk of Clifford's coal developments and prospective heir really moves him; he's got a lot invested in the idea of England.
- Finally the circle closes. Connie is blithely arranging flowers one day when Clifford tells her, oh, by the way, there's this rumor that you're going to have a child.
- To her credit, she pulls it off. She just asks if it's a joke and then moves on to announce that she's going to head off to Venice in July with her father and sister. Clifford hems and haws a little, but says that it's fine as long as she promises to come back.
- Connie doesn't even really want to go, since she'd rather keep sneaking off to the cottage every night to have wild, passionate sex with Mellors (well, when you put it that way, who wouldn't?).
- The only thing is that if she goes, she can pretend to have an affair in Venice and then have an excuse for being pregnant. Road trip!
- But before all that happens, Connie heads off to the town of Uthwaite, giving us a whirlwind tour of England along the way. It's not a pretty drive.
- The car goes past Tevershall, the hideously ugly coal-mining village full of ugly people who can't sing. Really: the schoolchildren singing are a "strange bawling yell […] like nothing on earth, and it was called singing" (11.75).
- And it's all because poor people actually want money. The leaders make them work for money, and so they start needing money to live, and pretty soon everything goes south.
- Sure, Mellors is from a coal-mining family, and he turned out fine. He only survived, though, because he cut himself off from his roots.
- The car drives south, and as it heads south, the land rises. They pass a new development with a modern hotel, some fancy mine machinery, and some new houses that are now filled with "riff-raff drinking in from anywhere, to poach Clifford's rabbits among other occupations" (11.86).
- You get the sense that D. H. Lawrence wasn't much fun to be around.
- Finally, we get to a nice house (maybe something like this), built when Elizabeth I was queen in the 1500s, and landlords lorded it over the country. Gee, those were the days. For the landlords.
- But now we're in the present, and the present is full of disgusting little "blackened miners' cottages" (11.88) and "naked railway-lines" (11.89). People are demolishing the old England of stately homes to build new cottages for miners.
- It's awful, unless, of course, you happen to be one of those miners who needs a nice new cottage. Bad news for Connie and the rest of the rich people, though.
- Finally, Connie gets to the estate of Shipley, where's she's come to visit Leslie Winter. Leslie is an old-fashioned guy with a healthy respect for working men and an even healthier sense of his own importance, walking around "bare-headed, and in his patent-leather shoes and purple silk socks" (11.97). Poor Leslie. As soon as he dies, his heirs tear the house down and build a hideously ugly row of houses.
- Now we get to an extended meditation on Modernity and the Wheel of Time, and Change, and the "industrial masses" (11.114) who are "incarnate ugliness" and "creatures of another reality" (11.118) and other such lovely sentiments.
- We should point out that while this is taking place, Connie is going on about her business. The chronology is a little confusing in this part, since the narrator seizes the opportunity to go on and on about how terrible the world is while daily life goes on.
- Finally home, Connie talks about her visit to Uthwaite. She visited some old lady named Miss Bentley, and horrifies Clifford by telling him that Miss Bentley adores him—she cuts his picture out of the paper exactly as if he were a British George Clooney.
- Sigh. British George Clooney.
- The next morning, Connie comes downstairs and sees Clifford in bed talking to Mellors, because, duh, he's a servant, which Connie seems to have forgotten when she slept with him.
- Speaking of servants, Connie is working out in the garden with Ivy Bolton. They're talking, as women do, and the subject of husbands comes up, as it does.
- Ivy tells Connie that sex was never the same after her husband saw her give birth. He just couldn't enjoy "his bit of married love" (11.165), thinking of all the pain he'd given her.
- Mrs. Bolton gets a little weepy, even though her husband died in a mining accident 23 years ago. She says she still misses his touch, and Connie,who's as much a snob in her way as Clifford, is a little shocked to realize that ordinary people can feel love so deeply.
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