Lady Chatterley's Lover
by D.H. Lawrence
Lady Chatterley's Lover Chapter 13 Summary
- It's Sunday. This is the day that Connie is supposed to sneak out of her house to spend the night with Mellors, but first she has to go for a walk with her husband.
- They head off into the woods, talking about Clifford's mines and miners. Connie has an obstinate streak, and she needles her husband about the possibility that the miners will strike.
- Nah, he says. They won't strike as long as I'm in charge, because they need to work.
- Connie is a little disgusted by Clifford's snobbishness. Then he starts noblesse obliging all over the place, talking about how it's the responsibility of the masters to provide work for the poor rather than to provide charity. Plus, as Connie points out, the owners don't seem to take their "boss-ship" seriously enough (13.45).
- The bickering continues. Connie says that the miners live hideous, hopeless lives, and Clifford insists that it's their fault: "They built themselves their pretty Tevershall, and they live their own pretty lives" (13.55).
- This is the part where Lawrence's fascist tendencies come out. Clifford says that the miners aren't really men but animals; that they're just part of an undifferentiated mass of working poor who might as well be Roman slaves; and that the major thing wrong with society is that we've educated the masses.
- Sure, we could dismiss this as Clifford's ranting—we know that Clifford isn't really Lawrence's model of an ideal man—but the problem is that Connie agrees with him: "There was something devastatingly true in what he said" (13.63).
- To give Clifford credit (maybe?), he doesn't think the difference is genetic—or racial, which is close to the word he would have used for genetic in 1928. It's cultural. He could raise any normal, healthy boy to be a member of the ruling class, but the two classes (ruling class and masses) are as separated as the latest celebrity divorce. Connie is rendered speechless, because there's really nothing to say to some who has such insane ideas. They go on, and Clifford admires the flowers as though he hasn't just expressed political views that wouldn't be out of place under Nazi Germany.
- The wheelchair jolts down a hill of hyacinths, giving Lawrence's prose some metaphorical scope ("Whither, O weird wheeled ship, your slow course steering" [13.87]).
- Along the way, Connie passes Mellors and tells him that they're on for the night.
- When she catches up with Clifford, he's stopped at a spring and they share a drink from a mug—a brief moment of companionship before it all goes south a few minutes later.
- Clifford's chair gets stuck going uphill, and he summons Mellors. Meanwhile, Connie tries to push, but Clifford unaccountably freaks out and refuses to let her, since what good is an electric chair if the motor doesn't work?
- When Mellors arrives, Clifford asks him to inspect the motor. Mellors, since he's Lawrence's idea of a real man, doesn't know anything about "these mechanical things" (13.139), and can't find anything broken.
- They argue about it, with Mellors and Connie offering to push and Clifford insisting that the chair, which he calls "she," can make it on her own. Eventually he loses his temper spectacularly, turning "yellow with anger" (13.185).
- This moment allows Connie to make some snide mental observations comparing the ruling classes (yellow, angry Clifford) with the calm and dignified serving classes (quiet, patient Mellors).
- In the end, Mellors lifts the chair from where it'd gotten stuck—no easy task, since he's just gotten over pneumonia—and starts pushing it home. Connie helps.
- Behind Clifford's back, she gives his hand a little kiss and admits to herself that Mellors and Clifford are "as hostile as fire and water" (13.218). She'd had some ideas living with both of them as brother-husbands (if that's the opposite of sister-wives?), but now realizes that's an idiotic idea.
- When they finally make it home, Connie furiously argues with Clifford about being a jerk to Mellors. Clifford figures he buys the right to be a jerk with Mellors's salary, and Connie storms off.
- That night, she leaves the house with all the care of a teenager sneaking out past curfew and heads off to her night of passion.
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