Lady Chatterley's Lover | Study Guide

D.H. Lawrence

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Lady Chatterley's Lover | Chapter 15 | Summary

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Summary

Life at Wragby is more of the same. Clifford Chatterley is involved in his coal-converting scheme and plays games every night with Mrs. Bolton. Connie meets Mellors whenever she can. Her trip is drawing nearer, and her sister, Hilda Reid, will soon be arriving to accompany her to Italy. Clifford does not want her to go, not because he will miss her but because her presence makes him feel safe. When Connie reminds him of the date she is leaving, he asks again if she is definitely coming back. Connie promises she will.

Connie tells Mellors she plans to tell Clifford she is leaving him after she returns. Then she and Mellors can go away and make a new life together. Mellors reminds her they both need to get divorced to avoid complications. They then talk about postwar England. Mellors is convinced industrialization is killing off all that is good in people. People are pursuing the wrong things, and the worship of mechanical things is "killing off the human thing" and human feelings. The world is doomed if people keep going as they have been.

The discussion turns to having a child. Mellors thinks it is wrong to "to bring a child into this world." Connie pleads with him to think otherwise, especially since she thinks she is going to have a child. Mellors says bringing a child into this world might work if one did not live for money. He implores Connie that they "live for summat else." He prophesizes a different type of life for Tevershall if everyone were to "drop the whole industrial life an' go back" to a different type of life. Connie only half listens to his ideas. She is more interested in threading flowers into his pubic hair!

Mellors keep talking about the destructiveness of industrialization. He feels it has turned men into labor insects and taken away their manhood. He notes, though, there is nothing he or anyone else can do to change it and rather than get worked up about it, he needs to "try an' live my own life." Connie feels his despair and thinks it is because she is leaving for Italy soon. Wanting to end the gloomy talk, she goes outside in the rain. Mellors takes off his clothes and follows her. They run through the clearing and into the woods. Mellors catches her, and they have short and sharp sex outside, "like an animal." Mellors urges Connie to come back inside, and she gathers flowers as she follows him to the hut. Once in the hut, Mellors rubs Connie dry and they lie in front of the fire. He admires her body and tells her she has "the nicest arse of anybody." He explores her body and tells her he likes it and stroking her ass makes his life complete. He takes the wet flowers she has collected and threads them in his turn into her pubic hair.

Connie turns the conversation to her trip and asks if he minds her going away. Mellors says she should do what she wants. Connie explains the trip is "a good way to begin a break with Clifford" and she does want a child. She hopes Mellors will take her away, but if not she will have a child at Wragby. Mellors wonders why she doesn't just stay away once she goes to Italy, but Connie says she has promised to return. Mellors thinks she does not know what she really wants, that she is leaving to find out and she may decide she wants "to stay mistress of Wragby." Mellors announces he has seen a lawyer to arrange for a divorce from Bertha Coutts. Until the divorce is final, he needs to live an "exemplary life."

Connie makes plans to see Mellors the night before she leaves. Her sister, Hilda Reid, is picking her up and they will leave Wragby after tea. Hilda will drop Connie off so she can spend the night with Mellors, and she will sleep somewhere nearby. The next morning they'll reunite and go to Venice. Connie plans to wear a disguise so no one recognizes her. When Mellors is walking Connie back to Wragby, they meet Mrs. Bolton. She knows they are lovers and notes how smitten Mellors is.

Analysis

Lawrence presents more of his ideas about industrialization and how the new postwar relationship between employers and the miners is dehumanizing the working class. Oliver Mellors represents the antithesis of the wage slave. He is an outsider and belongs neither to the ruling class that is redefining employer-employee relations nor to the working class that succumbs to the new industrial relations in its desperate struggle for survival. Mellors rejects the struggle and wants to live a life where he does not have to make money a priority. It is not that he disdains work, but that he rejects the pursuit of money as the purpose of life. Mellors also demonstrates a sense of hopelessness about his ability to effect change in contemporary society. He has very strong ideas about what is wrong with society in terms of political and economic issues, but he feels it is futile to do anything to change it and thus he needs to just focus on his own life.

This chapter marks the beginning of Connie Chatterley and Mellors taking active steps to free themselves from their partners so they can be together. Mellors has seen a lawyer and served divorce papers on his wife, Bertha Coutts. Connie has formulated a plan for when she will tell Clifford Chatterley of her plans to leave him. Mellors is not convinced, however, that Connie will leave her husband. He thinks there is a chance she may decide she does not want to give up her security, class, and reputation by leaving with him.

Lawrence uses situational irony to highlight the conflict between the cerebral and the physical. In this chapter Mellors goes off on a long-winded discussion of his ideas about the working class and money. He tells Connie "the root of sanity is in the balls." Connie then fondles his testicles, but he does not respond to her touch. In a way he has become like Clifford Chatterley—wrapped up in words, or the life of the mind, and immune to touch and the life of the body. Intellectually he espouses the sensual world, but he acts on the cerebral world. Connie expresses no opinion of his words as she barely listens to them. It is she, however, who acts on the ideas he espouses. She runs outside, fleeing the intellectual discussion, and he follows, putting all thoughts out of his head. They immerse themselves in the physical world, in the woods with rain pouring down on them, and engage in a primal sexual activity. This sensual act restores something in them—proving, at least for the moment, that sexual intercourse effects sanity and healthy relationships.

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