Study Guide

Sons and Lovers Chapter 14

By David Herbert (D.H.) Lawrence

Chapter 14

The Release

  • One night when Paul is in Sheffield, a doctor tells him that they have another patient from Nottingham named Dawes. Paul is shocked to hear the news.
  • He decides to visit Baxter, feeling that they share a very close bond in their mutual hatred.
  • When Paul looks at him, he realizes that they're both afraid of the men they become when they're around one another.
  • You soon realize the narrative has actually jumped backward here, and Paul is talking to Mr. Dawes before they take Mrs. Morel home in the motor-car. Paul tells Dawes that his mother has cancer.
  • Paul jokes about Dawes's condition, and Dawes can detect the misery in Paul's voice. He asks if Mrs. Morel is far gone, and Paul says yes.
  • Paul gets up to go and leaves Dawes a half-crown (a lil bit o' money). Dawes doesn't want it.
  • The next time Paul sees Clara, he tells her about Dawes being laid up in the hospital. Dawes's illness frightens her deeply.
  • Why? We're not sure.
  • The next time Paul and Clara walk together, they have a strained conversation about Dawes. No one, ever, is surprised by this awkwardness.
  • Clara goes to visit Dawes, but the two of them don't reconcile.
  • All this while, poor old Mrs. Morel gets more and more frail.
  • Days, months, and weeks pass.
  • Time really gets on in this book, doesn't it?
  • These days, Paul only really goes to Clara for sex. He's clearly using it to distract himself from his mom's illness.
  • We feel a little sorry for Paul at this point. Only a little, though, given his general jerkiness, and hopelessness as a human.
  • One day, Paul forgets Clara's birthday. He can only talk to her about his mother, and she feels depressed by him.
  • Paul talks about how his mother clings to life and refuses to die.
  • Then he visits Dawes again, as always. For the first time, he mentions being with Clara, and says this is why he didn't visit Baxter the Sunday before. He also reveals that Clara is tired of him. Paul admits that he's going to go away when his mother dies, to start a new life.
  • That's a good sign, we guess?
  • Dawes asks Paul about a scar on his mouth, forgetting that he was the one who put it there.
  • Miriam eventually visits the Morels, and is pained to see the toll that Mrs. Morel's illness has taken on Paul.
  • The Morels start having friends over at night and staying up late to laugh away their problems. Mrs. Morel can hear them through the floor, and is comforted.
  • Paul reveals to Annie one day that he's going to give their mother all of the morphine they have to try and kill her. Annie tells him to go ahead, but it's not clear whether either one thinks the other is joking.
  • This is all kind of uncomfortable.
  • The next day, Paul thinks his mom is dying. She isn't. Psyche.
  • Then Walter gets up for work and thinks that his wife will soon die. He asks Paul if he should stay the day at home, and Paul tells him it'll be fine and to go to work. Walter doesn't want to, but Paul insists.
  • Finally, Paul leaves the room and goes to a neighbor's house. A while later, Annie comes running across to the neighbor's and announces that their mother is dead.
  • Paul loses his mind and runs into the house to grab his dead mother, wailing.
  • Yup, that's pretty much what we were expecting from him.
  • He was not fooling us with any of that "I really want my mom to die" business.
  • Walter comes homes and doesn't notice that the blinds are down. Paul tells him about his wife's death.
  • Walter, charming as ever, goes on as if nothing has happened.
  • But grief does weird things to people.
  • After the funeral, Walter inappropriately talks to Mrs. Morel's relatives and expounds on how much he always tried to do for her, saying that no one could call him a bad husband.
  • Right.
  • Paul hates his father deeply for this, knowing that he'll go give this same spiel in the pubs.
  • In the wake of his mother's death, Paul starts wandering around. He hasn't slept with Clara in months.
  • Then Dawes visits Paul at the seaside.
  • The two are starting to get oddly chummy with each other. Like sharing drinks and talking about their girlfriends/wives chummy. Only their girlfriends/wives happen to be the same person.
  • Paul says he thinks Clara wants Dawes back, and says that even when he (Paul) was with Clara, Dawes was always there in the background.
  • Suddenly, the instinct for them to murder each other returns, and they pretty much avoid each other for a while.
  • The next day, Paul and Dawes both go to meet Clara at the train station. Then they all go back to the seaside cottage to hang out together.
  • Partway through the conversation, Clara realizes that Paul might be trying to fix her up with her husband again, and this angers her. She feels like he's taken what he's wanted from her (cough cough sex cough cough) and is now giving her back.
  • Finally, Paul goes to catch a train, leaving Dawes and Clara alone in the cottage.
  • They ask each other if they want to get back together.
  • Clara embraces him, pulling his face into her shoulder. She begs (or commands, depending on your perspective) him to take her back.
  • Guess this is happening now.