Lady Chatterley's Lover | Study Guide

D.H. Lawrence

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Lady Chatterley's Lover | Chapter 6 | Summary

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Summary

Connie next turns to Tommy Dukes to try to understand her situation and asks why men and women don't really like each other. Dukes explains they do, but liking and loving are mutually exclusive, at least for him. Connie thinks something is very wrong between men and women. Neither sex has glamour, or a romantic attractiveness, for the other. This saddens her greatly, and she wonders if anything has a point. Connie reflects on how her generation is rebelling and turning to parties and jazz to compensate for the lack of romance, which doesn't seem like a very satisfying life to her.

One day when she is very down Connie is walking in the woods when she overhears a child crying. She searches out the source and finds an angry Oliver Mellors yelling at a little girl, his daughter Connie Mellors. She is crying because Mellors has shot a poaching cat. Connie gives her a sixpence, soothes her sobs, and takes her to the gamekeeper's cottage, where Gran, her grandmother, is. Her interactions with Mellors are unpleasant. He switches between the vernacular and Queen's English. Although he is polite on the surface, he is short and brief with her and makes no attempt to hide his contempt. At the gamekeeper's cottage Mellors's mother is cleaning the stove. She is flattered Connie has taken the trouble to bring her granddaughter and explains the child is afraid of her father as she barely knows him and they've never really got on. Connie is relieved to deliver the child and end the conversation.

As she walks home Connie thinks of how meaningless everything is. She realizes her father was right about Clifford's stories. There is nothing in them. She feels weary knowing she is spending her time and energy to help Clifford with something so meaningless. Connie has no desire to pursue money or fame, and that leaves love and marriage—both of which are not very satisfactory. She dreads spending the rest of her life as it is. At the same time she has "made up her mind she want[s] nothing," because wanting something could end up as her relationship with Michaelis had. She is determined to just accept what she has and not strive for more, especially sex. The only thing that interests her is the idea of having a baby. She doesn't know any male whom she would want for the baby's father. She considers the possibilities—Clifford's friends, a foreigner, or someone she might meet on a trip abroad.

One day Connie agrees to go to the gamekeeper's cottage to deliver a message. Outside everything is very silent, without even the noises from the pits because the colliers are working shorter days. To her the world seems to be dying. When she nears Oliver Mellors's cottage, she sees smoke rising from its chimney and knows someone is home. Yet she receives no answer when she knocks. Hearing noises from behind the cottage, she goes to the back. There she sees a shirtless Mellors washing himself, "utterly unaware" of her presence. She notes his "white slim back" and "slender white arms" and his motions. She backs away without letting him know she is there. Though "a man washing himself" is an ordinary event, the sight of him shocks her. She thinks of what she has seen. His body seems both pure and beautiful, not in the sense of traditional beauty but as something filled with light that can be touched.

Connie tries to rationalize her visceral reaction to the sight of Mellors washing his body and reduces it to merely an observation of a man washing himself outdoors. After a short wait she returns to deliver her message. Mellors invites her in and is warm and welcoming. After she delivers the message, which was an order from Clifford, Mellors becomes hard and distant. Connie prolongs the contact by asking Mellors questions, such as if he lives alone at the cottage. His eyes are all knowing and smile at her. He is both kind and slightly mocking. Although he is slight and somewhat frail looking, his eyes are bright and alert. After she leaves she can't stop thinking about him. He doesn't seem like a gamekeeper, or a working person, to her. She knows he is a commoner, but there is something about him that is not at all common.

That night Connie asks Clifford if he thinks there is something special about Mellors. Clifford tells her Mellors had been in the army, had a fairly good position as an officer's servant in India, and just returned a year ago. Even though he had "improved on his position" while in the military, it did him and other soldiers no good because "they have to fall back into their old places when they get home again." Connie insists on knowing whether Clifford thinks Mellors is special. Clifford says he doesn't notice anything special, but her questions make him uneasy and slightly suspicious. She suspects he is not telling her—or himself—what he really thinks. He would not tell her if he found anyone exceptional because he wants all other people to be at his level or below it. For what it's worth, Connie considers all the men of her generation tight and "so scared of life."

Analysis

Connie Chatterley's discontent and sense of disconnection is permeating her life. She wants to believe men and women can love each other and that there is hope for her to have a different type of life in the future, but she doesn't see how it is possible. She realizes her peers are replacing love and intimate relationships with activities that keep them busy but seem empty and meaningless to her. She knows she has a huge void in her life.

Connie learns more about Oliver Mellors when she runs across him in the woods. Despite his barely concealed disdain for her, she is becoming curious about him. She views him as so different from his mother, who represents the uncouth working class. In contrast Mellors seems proud and almost a gentleman. She considers his house picturesque. And she views him as very much alone and on his own. This may appeal to her as he is not part of the disaffected modern youth who spend their time on jazz and nightclubs.

Mellors also is very aware of Connie and wavers between treating her impersonally, as befitting a servant with his master's wife, and engaging with her as if he wants to know her better. He keeps his place, but his eyes reveal she has stirred something within him. For Connie much of the attraction to Mellors is different than other young men of her generation, who amuse themselves with idle pastimes, intellectual talk, or the pursuit of success. His aloneness makes it seem as if he is special, or superior to the empty young men. It is unclear why Mellors is interested in her, but his eyes seem to indicate he senses what she is thinking and feeling and knows her dissatisfaction with her life as Lady Chatterley.

Again Lawrence uses nature imagery to reveal Connie's inner state. The woods are "utterly inert and motionless," just as Connie is inside. "Great drops fell from the bare boughs," like tear drops if Connie were to shed her sorrow.

Connie's "womb" to Lawrence is the repository of her sexual feelings, and it is her womb, not her heart or her mind, that reacts to the sight of Mellors washing himself. The womb also represents her ability for reproduction, as it is the organ that bears life. This relates to the theme of the restorative power of sex. For it is through sex that Connie will "come back to life," and the feelings she is experiencing in her womb are speaking to her and showing her the way.

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