Study Guide

Sons and Lovers Chapter 11

By David Herbert (D.H.) Lawrence

Chapter 11

The Test on Miriam

  • Like an animal in heat, the arrival of spring makes Paul realize he needs to be with Miriam.
  • The obstacle of physical contact with her remains pretty daunting, though.
  • For the first time, Paul seems to make a direct connection between his inability to be with Miriam and his connection to his mother.
  • Way to go, Paul. Some progress at last.
  • Now, Mrs. Morel feels that her only role in Paul's life is housework, and she's pretty pissed about it. But Mrs. Morel begins to give up on him, and accept the fact that Miriam will own him.
  • Miriam, not her.
  • One night, Paul tells Miriam that he's twenty-four and ready to marry. He doesn't have any money, but wants to marry anyway.
  • He asks Miriam if she loves him; she won't admit it, and this really angers him.
  • Finally, he draws her to himself and kisses her.
  • She stares into his eyes with blazing love. He almost pulls away, but she tells him to kiss her.
  • He asks her if they'll be happy, and she says yes with tears coming to her eyes.
  • He asks if they'll ever have sex, but she says not now. At this, his clasp on her slackens.
  • She tries to press his arm back around her. He tightens his grip again and asks why it is that they can't have sex.
  • Um, quit pressuring the girl, dude.
  • Miriam is worried about what will happen if they have sex. Like, maybe Paul won't find it satisfying and will go away forever.
  • After she thinks about it for a long time, though, she decides to submit to his advances like a religious sacrifice.
  • Paul and Miriam start courting each other like lovers. Finally.
  • One day, Paul climbs a cherry tree and starts ripping cherries off of it. Miriam comes out and sees him. He throws some cherries at her, laughing.
  • Paul asks her if she wants to hang out among the trees, where no one can see them. He says he wishes the darkness were thicker.
  • After he comes down to the ground, he leans back against a tree and pulls her to him. He seems like a stranger to her at this moment, but she submits to him.
  • You guessed it: they have sex.
  • Shortly after this encounter, Miriam's grandmother falls ill, and Miriam has to go mind the house for her. Eventually the grandmother goes to Derby to stay with her daughter, and Miriam stays alone in the house.
  • Paul visits her. For the rest of their time there, they treat the house as though they're man and wife.
  • One thing he doesn't like about Miriam: how, in his mind, she acts like she's doing him a favor every time they have sex.
  • Of course, the two keep having sex anyway.
  • Miriam says she'd be more able to get into the sex if they were married.
  • Next thing you know, Paul's back home, telling his mother he won't be going to Miriam's anymore. What.
  • Mrs. Morel is shocked, and doesn't know what to think. There's a quietness about Paul that makes her wonder what's going on.
  • Gradually, Paul stops asking Miriam to have sex with him.
  • He's happy whenever he's around Clara again.
  • He also starts to spend more time with his guy friends.
  • Eventually, Paul tells Miriam that he's going to stop seeing her.
  • Miriam wants to know why.
  • He says he can't help it.
  • She wants to know if he's tired of having sex with her. He doesn't give her a satisfying answer, though, and just repeats that he wants to break off their relationship.
  • For the first time, Miriam openly insults Paul—she says he acts like a four-year-old.
  • We agree with her, at least a little bit.
  • Paul remains calm and says Miriam can now go off and lead an independent life. Miriam admits to herself that her bondage to Paul has kept her life stunted.
  • However, she's still confident that if Paul grows up to be a real man, he'll come crawling back.
  • After they part ways, Paul goes by a pub, flirts with some other girls, and then comes home to tell his mom that he and Miriam are over.
  • So that's that. Right?
  • Wrong.