Study Guide

Sons and Lovers Chapter 12

By David Herbert (D.H.) Lawrence

Chapter 12

Passion

  • Over time, Paul begins to make a living off his art. It's not a great living, but there's potential for him to make more money.
  • One day, he tells his mother he's going to become a famous painter who people talk about.
  • We say: you follow your dreams, dude.
  • Ever fickle, Paul doesn't waste much time before making a move on Clara. He takes her in his arms for a moment, then feels shy and runs away from her.
  • Smooth move, Paul.
  • Later, they go to a movie, and he takes her hand. She doesn't resist, but doesn't exactly squeeze back either.
  • Paul really starts to pine over Clara when she's not around. He starts to hate his weekends because he won't see Clara until Monday.
  • He feels like he's on drugs when he thinks about Clara.
  • Oh yeah, that's love, all right.
  • One afternoon, Clara just comes out and asks Paul why he left Miriam. He tells her it's simply because he didn't want to marry.
  • Clara's silent for a moment. She asks if Paul doesn't want to marry Miriam in particular, or doesn't want to marry anyone at all.
  • He says: both.
  • Then Clara compares her age with Paul's, and reminds him that she's six years older. He says it doesn't matter.
  • They kiss some.
  • Paul asks her why she hated her husband. She just turns and kisses him some more. Then the two of them start to walk down the bank to a river.
  • They come upon two men fishing and walk past shyly. When they're out of sight, he lays down his raincoat and has sex with Clara on top of it.
  • This is all described by the narrator in not-so-subtle terms.
  • When the sex is over, Clara seems unsure of herself. Paul tells her not to worry.
  • He is madly in love with her.
  • They stop in at a teahouse on the way home. An old woman gives them flowers. When they leave, Paul wants to make sure Clara doesn't feel like she's done something wrong.
  • When Paul gets back home, his mom browbeats him for being late. Her face is all white, and Paul realizes that she's getting older and sicker.
  • He tells her he's been with Clara, and his mom says Clara's a married woman and people are going to talk. He says he doesn't care.
  • But Mrs. Morel says it's Clara he should be worried about.
  • People weren't exactly kind to women who have extra-marital relations back then.
  • During this time, Paul still walks with Edgar and Miriam after church, and one day finds himself alone with Miriam. It satisfies his ego to know he's the most interesting topic of conversation to her.
  • Miriam says it must be hard on Clara's reputation for her and Paul to always be seen together. She also says it's a shame that Paul can do as he likes because he's a man. Paul says it's superficial for a woman to worry so much about her reputation.
  • He just doesn't get how it's different for men and women.
  • Typical man, right?
  • Miriam finds out that Clara is coming over to meet Mrs. Morel, and realizes that things have moved quickly.
  • She hates the thought that Paul's family might accept Clara. She says she might pop by the Morels' house to say hi to Clara.
  • It angers Paul that she just invites herself over like this, but he says "okay" anyway.
  • When Clara arrives at the Morels' house, Paul cringes at how tiny and frail his mother looks beside Clara.
  • Mrs. Morel feels sorry for Clara, knowing that no woman will keep Paul.
  • Guess everyone's feeling sorry about everyone at this stage.
  • Paul takes Clara into a room and shows her all the family photos. She feels like she's being taken into the family.
  • Mrs. Morel and Clara start to talk about people they know in Nottingham, and Paul knows they'll get along. Walter comes down from an afternoon nap and is surprisingly gallant in his greeting to Clara.
  • Then Miriam shows up, and she knows, just by looking at 'em, that Paul and Clara are in love.
  • Now things get really awkward. Miriam isn't great at hiding her displeasure.
  • We understand. Breakups are hard.
  • In church, Miriam sees Paul doing all the things for Clara that he used to do for her. Paul knows that she sees this, and takes some sort of sadistic pleasure in hurting her.
  • Ugh.
  • Clara accuses him of not being able to give up Miriam. He says there's nothing to give up; they'll only ever be friends.
  • Paul asks his mother if she likes Clara. Mrs. Morel says yes, but also says that Paul will get tired of her.
  • Paul goes up to his bed and cries into his pillow, biting his lips until they bleed.
  • Paul and Clara hang out more times.
  • Mushy mushy.