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Lady Chatterley's Lover

Lady Chatterley's Lover


by D.H. Lawrence

Lady Chatterley's Lover Chapter 17 Summary

  • Connie explains to Hilda that she'd understand if she just found the right man, which Hilda (understandably) finds kinda annoying. 
  • In fact, a lot of what Connie says—like "perhaps you are a slave to your own idea of yourself" (17.6) is annoying, especially because Hilda doesn't like her little sister talking back. 
  • Connie, meanwhile, is still congratulating herself on having found a nice man so she doesn't have to be friends with women anymore. (You can tell a man is writing this book.) She's also glad to see her father, especially his legs. Seriously. They go to the opera, and she spends the whole time thinking about his "strong and well-knit" thighs (17.13). 
  • In general, Connie doesn't enjoy London, with its zombie-like inhabitants. Paris is no better. The people are a little less undead, but they look sad and tired. She just can't get excited, even over the lovely scenery as they drive down to Venice—everything looks identical, people are all the same, and she's really just rather be at Wragby having sex with Mellors. 
  • Connie is really not winning our sympathy on this one, since she talks about people holidaying in Europe as though they're just at Disney World standing in line for Space Mountain. 
  • Finally, they get to Venice and find themselves a nice gondolier, who talks them into hiring him for the week, since "it is always preferable to have one's gondola" (17.34). Yeah, we bet it is. 
  • The sisters are staying at a house full of people, ranging from a regular old clergyman to a Georgian prince. And they're all boring. Connie pulls out the world's tiniest violin to complain about how there's too much of everything: paintings, theater, plays, cocktails, strawberries, watermelon—there's too much of everything. It is so boring, and it drugs everyone into complacency. 
  • Hilda likes it, of course, but Connie, who has some special insight into the world of the body, knows that it's not nearly as good as having sex with Mellors. She'd rather take her gondola and gondolier across the lagoon to swim than go to jazz clubs. 
  • Well, Connie is pregnant anyway, so she probably shouldn't be downing too many cocktails—not that they cared too much about that in the 1920s. 
  • Then Clifford sends a letter that changes everything. Mellors's "truant wife" (17.70) has shown up.
  • Connie is less upset than irritated. She writes to get news from Mrs. Bolton, who tells her the whole story: Bertha showed up on Mellors's doorstep and then, when he didn't let her in, snuck in the house later and plopped herself down naked in his bed. When he still didn't take her back, she started spreading rumors that he had a lover. (Turns out, Connie wasn't as careful as she thought she'd been, and there are clues all over.) 
  • Now she realizes that the whole situation is terrible. She almost decides to break up with Mellors, but then she mentions him to Duncan Forbes, an old friend of hers. She doesn't say that she's planning on running away with him, but she does say that his wife is trying to ruin him.
  • Forbes is sympathetic, and somehow this changes Connie's mind—this, and the mental image of Mellors's "erect penis" (17.87). 
  • She sends Mellors a letter through Mrs. Bolton. While she waits for his reply, she gets another letter from Clifford, who oh-so-casually lets the news drop that he and Mellors have mutually decided that it's best for him to leave. 
  • Connie figures out why when Mellors writes to her: Bertha has accused Mellors of having an affair with none other than Lady Chatterley. 
  • Oops.
  • And it turns out that Mellors's leaving was not quite as amicable as Clifford represented, either. Mellors explains the whole sordid situation in a letter and finishes up by giving Connie his new address in London, and that's it. Nothing about how he loves her and wants to see her, just the address. 
  • For the next few days, Connie wanders around Venice trying to figure out what to do next. 
  • There's one thing she's not going to do, and that's sleep with Duncan—even though he's totally into her.

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