Study Guide

Sons and Lovers Chapter 10

By David Herbert (D.H.) Lawrence

Chapter 10


  • Paul is starting to grow ambitious about his painting. The wife of his boss, Miss Jordan, takes an interest in his career and even invites him to dinners that other artists attend.
  • One day, while he's washing up, his mother comes running in with a letter and shouting. She hugs Paul (probably while he's naked, ick).
  • She says that Paul's painting has won first prize in a contest. His prize includes twenty guineas, which was a lot in 1913.
  • Paul gets dressed and comes out of the bathroom, suspicious, and examines the letter a long time before he believes it.
  • His mother tends to talk about the accomplishment as theirs instead of his.
  • Again, we're not surprised.
  • Walter mentions that his dead son William would have been just as great as Paul now is. Uh, thanks, Dad.
  • With Paul and Annie's help, Mrs. Morel starts wearing nicer clothes. Now the only person in the family who isn't moving on up in the world is Walter.
  • Paul declares one day that no matter how fancy he gets, he'll always love the common people best, because they give him warmth.
  • How sweet. Or something.
  • Arthur comes out of the army to get married. At first, he chafes at his responsibilities as a father. He's irritable with his young wife, who loves him. But then his grit comes out. He buckles down, works hard, and takes on his responsibilities.
  • Paul starts to fall in with political groups through his association with Clara. One day, he's asked to deliver a message to Clara, and he visits her for the first time at her house. She flushes to see him at her door.
  • He goes into the house and sits down in a kitchen full of white lace, which Mrs. Radford (the house's owner) is working with.
  • Mrs. Radford asks if Paul is "going with" Miriam. Paul starts to stammer an answer.
  • The woman interrupts and says Miriam is a very nice girl, though a bit too much above everyone for her liking.
  • With Paul's help, Clara goes back to working with Paul at Jordan's.
  • One day, he picks up a book near her workbench and realizes she reads French. When he asks her about it, though, she's indifferent to the question.
  • Paul hates her coldness, since he's a crazy hothead.
  • Another day, he sits down next to her and tells her he's just realized that he's her boss and that she should call him "sir." She turns it back on him by saying that she'd like him to go away, sir.
  • He gets angry at her superiority, but you can tell that he also kind of likes it.
  • As things go on, the Morel household starts to fall apart. Arthur's getting married, Mrs. Morel isn't well, and Walter ends up in a job that pays less money.
  • Oh, and our boy Paul keeps thinking he owes his life to Miriam, and constantly feels her moral judgment.
  • For Paul's birthday, Clara sends him a nice volume of poetry. He's stunned by the gift.
  • There's a note inside that says Clara feels isolated, and is happy to give him a present.
  • So the two of them start walking together openly, and everyone can see something's going on between them.
  • Paul, however, continues to convince himself that his relationship with Clara is one of friendship. He keeps telling himself that he can't be with either Clara or Miriam.
  • Maybe if he keeps saying it to himself, it'll become true.
  • This whole time, Miriam remains convinced that Paul will come crawling back to her after he's finished being young and stupid.
  • We think the only person Paul is likely to come crawling back to is his mother.
  • Clara and Miriam pretty much stop hanging out; as a result, Paul rarely sees Miriam.
  • One day, Paul tells Clara one day he can't go to a concert with her because he's going to Willey Farm. Clara acts cold to him about this, so he tries to explain to her why he can't be with Miriam.
  • He says he wants a give-and-take, not to be kept in someone's pocket. He says Miriam wants him so much that he can't give himself to her.
  • Yes, we think this is kind of a messed up thing to say.
  • Clara does too. She says it's crazy that he's known Miriam for so long and doesn't know her at all.
  • The truth is, Clara says, that Miriam just wants Paul and not his soul. That stuff is all in Paul's head.
  • Take that, Paul.
  • Feminism. Or something.