Tuesday, January 11, 2011


"What could possibly become of such a people, a people in whom the living intuitive faculty was dead as nails, and only queer mechanical yells and uncanny willpower remained? [...] It was ... a new race of mankind, over-conscious in the money and social and political side, on the spontaneous, intuitive side dead, but dead." (166-167)

The bulk of chapter eleven is a reflection on the new industrial England, which is interesting, but not really the subject of our study. The most relevant part of the chapter is when Connie and Clifford individually hint at the possibility of a child by saying that it's only Clifford's legs and hips that are paralyzed, and that his potency may yet return. Mrs. Bolton immediately takes this gossip to the town and the rumor spreads that Wragby may have an heir after all. Clifford convinces himself that the hypothetical child may really be his, while Connie is thinking of Oliver. Her father and sister have also arranged a trip for her to Venice over the summer, which opportunity she'll take to have a "love affair" abroad and throw the scent off Oliver as the real father of a future child.

In the beginning of chapter twelve, Connie and Oliver have a conversation that begins generally and then comes to a point: that Connie might have a child. Oliver accuses her of having "made use of him," but it's difficult to tell how serious he is, and Connie insists that she simply "liked his body" (page 186).

Leaving unsettled by this exchange, Connie goes back to the sex-hut, feeling she must do something. Oliver is there, tending the hens, and when she arrives, they go inside and have sex. This time, however, there's no magic: "And this time the sharp ecstasy of her own passion did not overcome her; she lay with her hands inert on his striving body, and do what she might, her spirit seemed to look on from the top of her head, and the butting of his haunches seemed ridiculous to her, and the sort of anxiety of his penis to com to its little evacuating crisis seemed farcical. Yes, this was love, this ridiculous bouncing of the buttocks, and the wilting of the poor insignificant, moist little penis. This was the divine love! After all, the moderns were right when they felt contempt for the performance; for it was a performance" (188).

Oliver knows that something was wrong: "It was no good that time. You wasn't there" (189). Connie begins to sob and confesses that she can't love him, even though she wants to, and it makes their lovemaking seem "horrid." Oliver doesn't seem too upset as he tells her that she must take the thing with the thin, the rough with the smooth. He breaks into his Northern English dialect (which is as difficult to read as it is to understand verbally--see the Lord of Swamp Castle from Monty Python and the Holy Grail), which Connie detests; so she resents him for a moment, but as he gets up to leave she begs him to come and hold her again. "It was from herself she wanted to be saved, from her own inward anger and resistance. Yet how powerful was that inward resistance that possessed her!" (my italics; 190)

As he holds her, she becomes small and vulnerable, and Oliver becomes filled with "intense yet tender desire, fr her, for her softness, for the penetrating beauty of her in his arms, passing into his blood" (190). Connie feels his "flame of desire ... and she felt herself melting in the flame." He enters her again, and this time the magic is back: "And her terror subsided in her breast, her breast dared to be gone in peace, she held nothing. She dared to let go everything, all herself, and be gone in the flood" (190-191). In this consummation she "was gone, she was not, and she was born: a woman" (191).

After a brief pause in which Connie marvels for the first time at the mystery of testicles ("What a strange heavy weight of mystery, that could lie soft and heavy in one's hand!"), they have sex again, "And this time his being within her was all soft and iridescent, purely soft and iridescent, such as no consciousness could seize" (192). And after that, Connie loves him; and Oliver says: "I love thee that I can go into thee. [...] It heals it all up, that I can go into thee. I love thee that tha opened to me. I love thee that I came into thee like that" (193-194).

Oliver appears reluctant to directly admit his feelings for Connie, probably because he's still wary of getting close to others; but this chapter is definitely a move towards the love part of this love affair. They're both softening towards each other. There's much less of a back-and-forth between desire and resentment, and there's equal parts tenderness and desire. Lawrence makes a point several times to distinguish between sexual and tender touches: e.g., "His hand passed over the curves of her body, firmly, without desire, but with soft, intimate knowledge" (195).

The chapter ends with her running back to Wragby--she's probably quite late for dinner, after that extensive sexy-time--so we don't get any reflection from either of them yet, but I certainly look forward to it!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. If the shiny, shifting colors of a man be the food of love...?

  3. I hope you're quoting that from somewhere, because Lawrence isn't referring to the man; he's referring to the experience. We could debate "his being WITHIN her" versus "HIS BEING within her," but based on Lawrence's style throughout my money's on the former.

  4. I was being silly and the "food of love" quote popped into my head, so I modified it. I do mostly get what he means, but found it a rather unusual, almost synesthetic term.

  5. It's definitely an unusual descriptor; Lawrence does that a lot, haha.