Lady Chatterley's Lover
by D.H. Lawrence
Lady Chatterley's Lover Chapter 16 Summary
- Mrs. Bolton updates Connie: Clifford is pissed. She's been out in the storm, and he's been worried about her. He almost sent someone to the hut to find her—which would have been a disaster, since she was rolling around naked in front of the fire with Mellors.
- Luckily, Mrs. Bolton, who knows about the affair, convinces him not to. No word on why Mrs. Bolton cares—you'd think she'd want to get Connie out of the house so she could continue glomming on to Clifford—but she's "somehow, in her femaleness, an ally" (16.23).
- By the time Connie makes it home, she's worked herself up into a rage about Clifford feeling like he has the right to send people around after her.
- When he asks her what she's been doing, she tells him straight out: she's been running around naked in the rain. He's completely speechless, and probably a little sorry that he didn't get to see it.
- If Connie seems a little distracted during this argument, it's because in the back of her mind she's remembering Mellors telling her that she has a nice butt.
- Later that evening, the two are making awkward conversation with each other that quickly turns into an argument.
- Clifford is reading some sort of transhumanist book about how all we need is a little more evolution to get rid of our bodies entirely; but Connie, who has just discovered that sex can be fun, is actually enjoying her body, thank you very much.
- Clifford says something snarky about how women probably just can't enjoy the life of the mind, and Connie rolls her eyes, calling the life of the mind "idiocy": "Give me the body. I believe the life of the body is a greater reality than the life of the mind" (16.72).
- She goes on and on about how much she loves her body, and actually we're almost on Clifford's side here, since it does seem a little mean to get all excited about her vitality when Clifford is stuck in a wheelchair and not going off to Venice.
- Connie is preparing to leave. She and Mrs. Bolton have a quick chat about how Clifford's kind of a pain in the butt, like all men, and then Hilda shows up with a "nimble two-seater car" and "the very hell of a will of her own" (16.116)—that's what happens when you let women drive—and so it's not surprising that she's in the middle of a divorce.
- But for all that Hilda is modern and independent, or whatever, she's not keen on her sister having sex with a gamekeeper. When she hears about it, she lifts her nose "with disgust" (16.130) and becomes "violently angry" (16.131)—so much for her socialism.
- But Connie has grown a spine, and so she insists that she's going to spend their last night in England with Mellors.
- After a relatively civil afternoon with Clifford—Hilda may not like him much, but he's got to be better than a gamekeeper—Hilda and Connie have dinner at the hotel and then head off to Mellors's cottage. Hilda drives and Connie puts on driving goggles as a disguise, as though her sister's car showing up at Mellors's cottage wouldn't be a total giveaway.
- When they get to the cottage, Connie convinces Hilda to stay for a beer. Hilda and Mellors hate each other right away, which seems to be a theme with Mellors.
- He puts on his very worst behavior, talking in slang, offering her beer, and even eating without his coat on like a total savage. Hilda does her part to feed the animosity, putting on high-class airs and calling him vulgar and selfish; he calls her sexless and cold. It's love at first sight.
- Finally, she leaves, and Mellors and Connie have a night of passion, which, thankfully, Lawrence doesn't describe in detail—although, given that he says it makes "a different woman of her" (16.292), maybe we would like some details after all.
- Connie lies in bed congratulating herself on having a found a real man "who was not afraid and not ashamed" (16.299) and then falls back asleep.
- When she wakes up again, it's almost time to go. They make some promises to each other—well, Connie does; Mellors seems a little half-hearted—and then the postman shows up with a letter from British Columbia. (Foreshadowing?)
- Hilda's car sounds in the distance, and it's time to go. We'd feel sorry for Connie, but, come on, she's heading off to Venice. It's a rough life.
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