Study Guide

Sons and Lovers Chapter 3

By David Herbert (D.H.) Lawrence

Chapter 3

The Casting Off of Morel—The Taking on of William

  • The next week, Walter's temper is worse than ever. He starts using his money to buy all kinds of gimmicky medicines and vitamins. If only he'd lived in the age of Red Bull.
  • Right on cue, Walter Morel gets sick and needs Mrs. Morel to take care of him. The problem is, he wants her to keep doing everything for him even after he gets better.
  • So what does Walter start doing? He starts faking being sick.
  • This is basically a case of Munchausen Syndrome.
  • Anyway, Mrs. Morel goes along with the ruse, and, for a while, the house is actually fairly peaceful. The sad reality is that Mrs. Morel only starts treating Walter better because she really doesn't care about him anymore.
  • Seventeen months after Paul is born, Mrs. Morel has another baby.
  • Little William grows bigger and becomes more active, while Paul gets thinner and more delicate, following his mother around like a shadow. What a nerd. (Don't get us wrong, we love nerds.)
  • Paul is also prone to bouts of depression.
  • One day, a neighbor named Mrs. Anthony says that William  ripped the collar of her son's shirt. She's pretty upset about this business, but Mrs. Morel defends William. He's her kid, after all.
  • When she asks William about the incident that night, William claims that Alfred ran off with his "cobbler" (some sort of British chestnut-on-a-string thingy) and William chased after him for it and accidentally ripped off his collar when reaching for him.
  • But just when things seem resolved, Walter comes home that night looking for William. It's clear that Mrs. Anthony has told him what happened, and he's ready to hit his son for it.
  • Mrs. Morel scolds Walter for siding so readily against his own son. But when William enters the house, Walter jumps up to hit him anyway. Mrs. Morel leaps between Walter and William and tells her husband he'll have to fight her to get to William.
  • This relationship just keeps getting better and better.
  • When the children are old enough to be left alone, Mrs. Morel joins a group of women in the "Co-operative Wholesale Society," and starts writing papers to read aloud at public meetings.
  • The narrator tells us that some husbands don't like this club because it gives women too much independence.
  • When William turns thirteen, Mrs. Morel gets him a job in the Co-op office. Walter says William will make more money in the mine, but Mrs. Morel says there's no way William's following his father into the pit.
  • Soon, William starts to hang out with all the fancy people of Bestwood. He tells his younger brother Paul about all the pretty girls he meets.
  • Sometimes, girls will come to the Morels' door and ask for William, and Mrs. Morel will give them a hard time. Like any good parent would, really.
  • But she's going to have to let him have his own life eventually. Right?
  • Right?
  • When he's nineteen, William leaves the Co-op office and gets another job in Nottingham for nearly double the pay. Both Mrs. And Mr. Morel brim with pride.
  • Then he gets a job in London for four times the money, which is incredible. His mother doesn't know whether to rejoice or grieve, though, because she's worried about how hard he's working.
  • Also, she's obviously creepily attached to the dude, so she doesn't want him to leave.
  • As the days count down to William's departure, Mrs. Morel grows more depressed.