Sons and Lovers Part 2, Chapter 7-9
Paul enjoys visiting Willey Farm. He is friendly with the two youngest Leivers boys; Edgar, the eldest, and Miriam do not approach him at first. Miriam fears that Paul will treat her like her brothers do. Miriam is deeply emotional and sensitive and intensely devoted to religion, with her own romantic ideals. She wants Paul to view her not as a mere farm girl but as a girl with feelings and emotions capable of his intelligence. Miriam is like her mother; both the Leivers women live and breathe religion. Miriam loves passionately and deeply religion, Christ, and God. She feels that her brothers are irreverent, vulgar brutes and she does not consider her father religious enough for her.
She generally loathes the opposite sex, but she sees something different in Paul. Paul is far different from the boys and men she knows; he is gentle, astute, and thoughtful, and she admires his intelligence and cleverness. Miriam's soul is so deep and intense, she needs to feel that she can care and love someone who needs her strength so that she can love him with as much intensity and passion as she possesses.
"Then he was so ill, and she felt he would be weak. Then she would be stronger than he. Then she could love him. If she could be mistress of him in his weakness, take care of him, if he could depend on her, if she could, as it were, have him in her arms, how she would love him!" Part 2, Chapter 7, pg. 143
Now Miriam, a beautiful sixteen-year-old, is painfully aware that she is the daughter of a farmer and his wife. She is embarrassed that Paul can see that she is a only a mere farmer's daughter. Meanwhile, Paul is conscious of the fact that Miriam seems to live in a dream world, separated from reality.
Mrs. Leivers and Miriam are unlike the men in their family. They search for something deeper, more intimate in everything - relationships, nature, religion. The men are too coarse, dumb and shallow. Paul falls under Mrs. Leiver and Miriam's deep and intensified passions. When Mrs. Leivers insists on showing Paul a bird's nest, he remarks at how warm the nest is. Miriam is drawn to the nest after Paul's remark and flowers after Paul's admiration for them.
"She stimulated him into appreciating things thus, and then they lived for her. She seemed to need things kindling in her imagination or in her soul before she felt she had them. And she was cut off from ordinary life by her religious intensity which made the world for her either a nunnery garden or a paradise, where sin and knowledge were not, or else an ugly, cruel thing." Part 2, Chapter 7, pg. 149
Miriam and Paul's relationship progresses slowly. Miriam finally summons up enough courage and faces her fear of Paul's rejections to ask him if he wants to see the swing on their farm. She always hesitates to show him or offer him anything; she fears that Paul will react as her mocking, laughing brothers do. When Paul jumps at the chance to see the swing, Miriam takes him to the swing in a cowshed. She begs him to ride the swing first - it is the first time in her life that she gets the chance to spoil Paul - or any man, for that matter. When Miriam suggests that he take another ride, Paul convinces her to try riding the swing. As she swings, she feels his hands on her, ready to catch her swing and push her upwards. Uncomfortable with the pressure of Paul's hands on her, Miriam insists that she needs his help; Paul can hear the fear in her voice and lets her swing by herself. Whenever he is ready to catch her in her swing, she would feel her heart melt.
Miriam takes such meaning in his sketches and paintings. Paul asks her why her emotions run from one extreme to the next at any given time. At times, Paul cannot describe his feelings for her. He hates the way she enfolds her young brother in her arms and shower him with kisses. He hates the way her emotions are so intense and so vehement. He is often puzzled with her as well - she is quite bitter and dissatisfied with her fate of being a young girl. Miriam is a contradiction in her view toward men and women: she almost wishes that she were a man, but she hates men at the same time. When Miriam declares that she wants to learn and be educated, Paul offers to teach her algebra.
When Paul teaches Miriam algebra, he is frustrated by the way she never answers him and gets aggravated quickly. Miriam cannot grasp the concepts of algebra easily, even though she studies the material intensely. Paul asks her in frustration and anger, "'What do you tremble your soul before it?...You don't learn algebra with your blessed soul. Can't you look at it with your clear simple wits?'" Part 2, Chapter 7, pg. 156 He tries to be gentle, but her emotions make him furious that he throws a pencil in her face. That she is never angry or critical with him makes him feel ashamed of himself.
After his futile attempt in teaching Miriam algebra, Paul often goes about with Edgar, talking or doing carpentry. The time spent at his home studying painting is with his mother. Paul and his mother both know that Mrs. Morel herself inspires Paul with the strength and the warmth to do his best at painting, but it is Miriam who brings out the intensity and the depth of his work.
Miriam shows Paul a beautiful rose-bush she had found in the woods. She feels that if she does not show him the rose-bush, she would not completely feel the rose-bush in her soul. She needs Paul to be with her when he sees the rose-bush. "They were going to have a communion together - something that thrilled her, something holy." Part 2, Chapter 7, pg. 159 The roses are pure white and gleaming. Miriam almost worships the flowers, but Paul feels strangely "imprisoned" by the roses and its "white, virgin scent." Part 2, Chapter 7, pg. 160
Mrs. Morel feels that Miriam draws Paul into her soul and heart, and resents her for taking her son away from her. When she tells Paul that it is disgusting behavior that young girls and lads are courting, he replies that his relationship with Miriam is no more different than Annie's relationship with a young man is. Mrs. Morel significantly remarks that Annie is not like them. Paul does not realize that his mother's comment refers to he and Miriam, but he sees that she is hurt and tells Miriam that he should not be late returning home.
Mrs. Morel is ecstatic and delighted to find a little patch of bright blue scyllas under the currant-bushes in their garden. When Paul tells his mother that he had set some flower bulbs down there but was going to tell her when he thought they might have flowered, Mrs. Morel is too happy to have found them to be mad at him.
One day, Paul, Annie, and Arthur go for a walk with their friends. Miriam does not get along with anyone else, for she feels that she is different from the others; her one companion is Nature. When she catches up with Paul to talk to him alone, she finds that his mind is concentrated on fixing something - the umbrella he carried with him. They both know that it had been his friend Geoffrey who had damaged the spring in the umbrella. When Miriam asks why he is so concerned about the old umbrella, Paul explains quietly that William had given the umbrella to their mother and that his mother must not know what happened to it.
When Miriam expresses her happiness in having Paul call, Agatha, her elder sister, rebukes her for admitting her feelings so openly. Miriam is quite startled by the fact that Paul might see her true feelings for him and doubts the intensity of her emotions. First, she questions if she really loves Paul, and upon recognizing that she does want him, feels ashamed of her ardent emotions. She prays to God that if it is His will that she love him, she will love him as much as she possibly can. She knows that it is not wrong to love him, but still her love for Paul shames her.
She distances herself from Paul after that, ceasing her habit of calling on him on Thursdays, as much as she regrets her decision. Paul is disappointed as well; his mother is perfectly happy with Miriam's decision.
Paul tries to keep his relationship with Miriam platonic; he would not have it that they were in love. He firmly denies any possibility of a chance of being a lover to Miriam. They agree that what other people say does not matter to them.
The Morels go on a holiday when Paul is twenty and has saved enough money. They rent a furnished cottage in Mablethorpe. Annie's and Paul's friends come along on the holiday as well. Everyone is delighted with the charming cottage and its surroundings. Paul loves spending time with his mother, walking through the fields and garden and to the village and the sea. Miriam does not get to see much of Paul, except when the others go to the "Coons" in the evenings or when he sketches. Both Miriam and Paul think of the Coons as stupid.
One evening, Paul and Miriam go to the shore to look at the ocean. Paul is mesmerized by the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore and the sight of the moon against the night sky. Miriam expects him to be moved as deeply as religiously as she is, but Paul's emotions are very much still within him. He cannot express his feelings to her.
Paul is ashamed that he has the idea that he might want Miriam for a lover. He is ashamed with himself for thinking of Miriam in a sexual way. He feels that she might resist physical love, and also that he is too scared himself of making the first move. He tells himself that he hates her for making him despise himself, and Mrs. Morel hates her for changing Paul into a moody and melancholy boy. Miriam feels the antagonism Mrs. Morel and Annie have for her, but she does not care much.
Arthur gets a job at the electrical plant at Minton Pit.
He is a wild, impulsive boy, heedless to thought and temper. One night, he does not return home from work and Mrs. Morel is terribly worried about him. The next day, they find out that Arthur has enlisted with his friend but has no desire to continue. Arthur futilely writes to see if Mrs. Morel can get him out of the army and bring him home. Mrs. Morel is furious that Arthur would consider being a soldier; Paul cannot understand why his mother is so upset, when Arthur is known for being a fool. After visiting Arthur at the camp, Mrs. Morel returns home, dreadfully worried. She knows that army life is too disciplined for him and worries about him. Paul remarks that being a soldier may turn Arthur into a more disciplined and sensible man. Mrs. Morel assures herself that Arthur will do well in the army.
When two of Paul's paintings win first prize in a students' exhibition, Mrs. Morel is elated. She knows that all of her sons are great, but Paul she feels is destined to become famous. Mrs. Morel tells herself that through Paul, "she was to see herself fulfilled." Part 2, Chapter 8, pg. 183
One day, Paul meets in the street Miriam with a striking-looking older woman who has blonde hair. The woman possesses an air of defiance, from her mouth to her eyes. Paul is struck by how the other woman makes Miriam look so small and insignificant. Miriam introduces the woman, Mrs. Clara Dawes, to Paul, who remembers that she is the daughter of an old friend of Mrs. Leivers and whose husband is the smith for Jordan's factory. Clara Dawes remembers him as the boy who walked around with one of the Spiral girls at Jordan's. Paul notices that Clara looks very scornful of him - or perhaps all men - and in sharp contrast to Miriam, is evidently poor, from her shabby dress. After he leaves the two women, Paul remembers that Clara Dawes is separated from her husband, Baxter Dawes, and is involved with Women's Rights issues. To Paul, Clara and Baxter are similar in certain respects - they both have the same clear white skin and a defiance in attitude - but his eyes are evil and hateful. Paul never liked Baxter from the beginning; Baxter would always look at him with a criticizing eye. Baxter seems as if he would knock anyone who crossed or disapproved of him. Clara and Baxter Dawes have no children; she lives with her mother and he with his sister and his prostitute.
Miriam and Paul talk about Clara. Paul declares that he would have thought Clara to be more of a fighter against Baxter; her features are made for passion and fierceness. Miriam shrinks when she hears Paul's admiration for Clara. Noticing that she shrinks when they are talking about Clara, he is irritated with Miriam and asks her why she does not like Clara. Paul comments that perhaps Miriam does not like Clara because Clara has a grudge against men, but does not realize that her grudge is one of his reasons for liking her. He laments that when he is with Miriam, he feels he has to be spiritual, and he does not want to be.
When Paul invites Edgar and Miriam to tea, Mrs. Morel is cordial only to Edgar and cold to Miriam. Paul is angry that his mother acts so coldly to Miriam. When he sees Miriam coming to church, he is filled with a different kind of happiness. With his mother, Paul is happy and proud that his mother takes charge of his life. With Miriam, he is filled with "something more wonderful, less human, and tinged to intensity by a pain, as if there were something he could not get to." Part 2, Chapter 8, pg. 192
When spring arrives, Paul becomes so wild and moody that he does not trust himself around Miriam. He is cruel to her on purpose. Mrs. Morel believes that Miriam is not an "ordinary woman, who can leave me my share in him. She wants to absorb him till there is nothing left of him, even for himself. He will never be a man on his own two feet - she will suck him up." Part 2, Chapter 8, pg. 193
Paul has so many conflicting feelings about the relationships between his mother, Miriam, and himself. He asks himself a number of questions: why his mother sits at home alone, brooding; why he hates Miriam at times; why and how Miriam makes his mother suffer; why Miriam makes him feel so unlike himself when he is with her; why he cannot act like himself. The tensions in his feelings and thought plague him so much that he cannot work nor act like himself. He knows that Miriam wants him and he rebukes her feelings. In his mind, Miriam wants his soul and not himself.
The Morels' lives have changed. Although Paul still works at Jordan's as a Spiral overseer, he is also studying design. Annie is engaged to be married.
One day, when Miriam calls on Paul, another young woman, a friend of the Morels named Beatrice, comes to visit. In the conversation and melee that ensue, Paul forgets about the bread he is supposed to watch. The bread is burned; Paul hides the burned bread from his mother and continues giving Miriam her French lesson. Miriam writes her feelings for Paul in the diary he makes her write for exercise, and she almost cannot control expressing her feelings. Paul, on the other hand, checks his feelings and is cruel to her.
However, when Paul returns from walking Miriam home, he finds his mother and Annie sitting gloomily and the bread sitting on the table. When Mrs. Morel declares that Paul never has time for anybody but Miriam, he tries to make her understand that Miriam shares his interests, but it is her whom he wants to come home to. Paul hates Miriam for making his mother suffer. He swears that he does not love Miriam.
When Morel comes home from work, he and Paul almost get into a fist-fight but are interrupted by Mrs. Morel's fainting.
Miriam is aware that she and Paul will never have a relationship from the look on his face and his treatment toward her. He mocks her and his words are cruel and sarcastic. No matter how much he hurts her with scalding words or looks, Miriam is never cruel to him in return. They go out walking one day and Miriam, upon finding beautiful flowers, is totally absorbed by their beauty.
Disgusted with her behavior, Paul asks, "'You're always begging things to love you as if you were a beggar for love. Even the flowers, you have to fawn on them - You don't want to love - your eternal and abnormal craving is to be loved. You aren't positive, you're negative. You absorb, absorb, as if you must fill yourself up with love, because you've got a shortage somewhere.'" Part 2, Chapter 9, pg. 218
Although Paul speaks to her, neither Paul nor Miriam do not truly realize what he says; she only understands his hatred and cruelty and he is so inflamed that he speaks impulsively without giving any thought to what they mean. Later, they talk about their relationship. A weary Paul suggests that they break off their relationship, because all he can offer her is friendship. Miriam instinctively flushes, realizing that perhaps she loves him more than he loves her, but when Paul tells her that he does not love her, she cannot believe what he says. She knows that Paul loves her and belongs to her.
Paul realizes that his mother is the woman in his life who matters the most and that he is the most important person in hers. He wants to prove his mother's wish - that he will make something of himself - come true.
Paul wonders to Miriam if they love each other enough to marry. They agree that they do not love each other enough. Miriam is offended that Mrs. Morel, her father, and others talk about them as if they are engaged. They agree not to see each other and call on each other as often as they used to.
Paul loves Willey Farm so much that he cannot give it up, with all of its gardens, its rooms, its valleys and fields, and the Leivers family themselves, for Miriam. He spends most of his time with Edgar, and rarely with Miriam. Miriam misses Paul, so she decides to prove to him that what he needs is her love. She asks him to call on the farm when Clara Dawes will be there.
Paul's eagerness to see Clara is evident; Miriam is hurt by Paul's obvious pleasure in seeing Clara. Paul observes and admires Clara's striking body and features. He tries to converse with Clara, but she remains aloof throughout the entire conversation. Paul is uncomfortable when Mrs. Leivers asks Clara if she finds life better without her husband. When he, Miriam, and Clara take a walk, all he can think about is Clara.
Mrs. Morel and Paul take a trip to Lincoln. When they see the cathedral, they are mesmerized by it.
"Something in the eternal repose of the uplifted cathedral, blue and noble against the sky, was reflected in [his mother], something of the fatality. What was, was. With all his young will he could not alter it. He saw her face, the skin still fresh and pink and downy, but crow's-feet near her eyes, her eyelids steady, sinking a little, her mouth always closed with disillusion; and there was on her the same eternal look, as if she knew fate at last." Part 2, Chapter 9, pg. 240
Inside the cathedral, Paul is struck with fury. He declares futilely that he wished he were the first-born son and that his mother were younger and livelier.
Later, he tells his mother about Clara - Mrs. Morel wishes that he knew other women who are nice and simple, but she is not opposed to Clara.
Annie marries Leonard, her beau. Arthur returns home for the wedding, dressed in his uniform. Annie and Mrs. Morel cry at the thought of Annie's leaving home and her life with her family. Paul does not understand Annie's reasons for marrying. Both he and Mrs. Morel are miserable without Annie. Paul swears to his mother that he will never marry, because he does not want a wife to take his mother away from him.
Mrs. Morel buys Arthur out of the army. The strict military regime of the army had not disciplined Arthur; he is still the same rebellious, carefree man. He strikes up a sexual relationship with Beatrice. Meanwhile, Paul feels that the emotions and feelings of the people around him are changing. He becomes restless - Annie is married, Arthur spends his time with Beatrice, and Miriam's company does not satisfy him.
Paul's relationship with Clara tortures Miriam. Paul and Clara have a teasing, tense relationship that Miriam is jealous of. Miriam regrets that Paul should think about throwing away his religion. Wavering between grieving for Miriam or hating her, Paul finally decides to write her a letter expressing his feelings.
He writes, "I can give you a spirit love, I have given you this long, long time; but not embodied passion. See, you are a nun. I have given you what I would give a holy nun...In all our relations no body enters. I do not talk to you through the senses - rather through the spirit. That is why we cannot love in the common sense." Part 2, Chapter 9, pg. 251
Paul's letter to Miriam is the end of his first love-relationship.