Sons and Lovers | Study Guide

D.H. Lawrence

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Sons and Lovers | Part 1, Chapter 2 : The Birth of Paul, and Another Battle | Summary

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Summary

Mr. Morel curtails his drinking as the baby's birth grows nearer and he realizes his wife needs his help around the house. When Paul is born she is very ill as she was with the other children. Mr. Morel returns from work and is told about the birth but learning that his "wife was ill, that he had another boy, was nothing to him at that moment," so he drank and ate his dinner before going "reluctantly upstairs."

Mrs. Morel takes solace in her friendship with Mr. Heaton, the minister. She has him to tea and has made him Paul's godfather. Mr. Morel returns home early one night and causes a scene in front of the minister because there's no beer. Mrs. Morel hates the way he behaves, and William hates his father for the way he treats his mother. Shortly after the incident Mrs. Morel worries about the new baby, realizing she had not wanted another child because of her hatred for her husband. She looks at the baby in her arms and feels "a wave of hot love" for him and vows to love him "all the more now."

Mr. Morel returns home drunk one night and tries to take a knife from the drawer to cut his bread. He pulls the drawer open and it falls, cutting him in the shin. In the excitement he flings the drawer at his wife, hitting her above the eye and causing her brow to bleed profusely. She almost falls but maintains her balance to protect the baby in her arms. The next day he never says he is sorry, instead telling himself that "it was her own fault." The children sense the dreariness in the air and "there was a feeling of misery over all the house." Days later, out of money and desperate for a drink, Mr. Morel takes a sixpence from his wife's purse behind her back. When she discovers what he has done, she confronts him, but he denies taking the money. She feels "tired to death" of him and bitter "because she had loved him."

Analysis

Women's and men's roles are apparent when Mr. Morel shows his indifference to the birth of his child and his wife's exhaustion: having babies are what women do. He asserts his masculinity by choosing to eat and drink first. When Mr. Morel flies into a rage in front of the minister because there is no beer in the house, he demonstrates that his needs come first, even over other men's.

Religion is a powerful force in Mrs. Morel's life. When she has tea with Mr. Heaton, the minister, it is clear that he would have made a more compatible marriage partner for her than her own husband; she has made the minister Paul's godfather.

Mr. Morel's alcoholism threatens the bonds of his marriage. In a drunken fit he hits his wife with a drawer. Despite her pain and profuse bleeding, Mrs. Morel holds on to the baby in her arms. Throughout the novel her love for her sons overshadows her feelings for her husband, and her two sons become her preferred lovers, at least symbolically. She tolerates her husband but feels fulfilled by her sons and their love for her.

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