Sons and Lovers Part 2, Chapter 10-12
Paul wins first prize in another painting exhibition and a man buys it for twenty guineas. Both of his parents are overjoyed and ecstatic, Mrs. Morel bursting into tears and Morel gruffly wiping his tears away. They are saddened at the thought that William would have accomplished so much at Paul's age if he were alive.
At Mrs. Morel's suggestion, Paul wears William's old evening suit when he is invited to dinner parties. Mrs. Morel dresses more stylishly as well. Only Morel wears the same kind of clothing as he always had. Mrs. Morel wants Paul to be in a higher social class than the common people they are of and to marry a lady. She worries about him incessantly, because he still is involved with Miriam and he seems to care about Clara, who was a married woman. She worries about him because Paul does not seem as if he has reason or effort to live. Paul does not care if he is happy in life, a thought that frightens his mother.
"At this rate he would not live. He had that poignant carelessness about himself, his own suffering, his own life, which is a form of suicide. It almost broke her heart. With all the passion of her strong nature she hated Miriam for having in this subtle way undermined his joy." Part 2, Chapter 10, pg. 258
Arthur and Beatrice marry, and their child is born six months after their wedding. At first, Arthur cannot cope with the baby, but he soon realizes the importance of his responsibilities and devotes himself to his little family.
One day, Paul calls on Clara to give her a message from a friend of theirs. Clara is embarrassed and humiliated to have Paul call on her at home, where she and her mother sew lace for a living. He watches Clara sew, mesmerized by the movements of her body and features. Clara's mother, Mrs. Radford, tells Paul that her daughter is too proud and ashamed to admit that she wants to return to Jordan's. Mrs. Radford's blunt comments about Clara shame her, but Clara's suffering resonates passion in Paul. He can see that Clara is miserable and humiliated, and he wants to help her. He gets her a job at Jordan's when one of the girls leaves to have her baby.
Clara is different from the other Spiral girls at Jordan's. Those who remember her still believe her to be condescending and cold. Paul dislikes Clara and is attracted to her at the same time; her scorn for his work infuriates him. Clara considers herself to be superior from the other factory girls - she is more educated, can speak and read French (having taught herself) and belongs to the women's movement. However, she does not reveal that side of herself to Paul; she discloses true self from him. Paul is drawn to Clara's mystery, intrigue and excitement.
On his twenty-third birthday, Paul receives a surprise gift of paint-tubes from the Spiral girls - all except Clara. He learns that the girls have not included Clara because they did not want her involved. He and Clara take a walk up to Nottingham Castle later that day. Paul is surprised that Clara is so silent and brooding, making her seem as if she is small and insignificant. When Clara confesses that she feels as if the other girls have been hiding a secret from her, Paul feels guilty, having been the cause of Clara's suffering. A nervous and disturbed Paul informs her that his birthday gift had been the secret the girls were hiding from her, and that they are jealous of her because of their closeness. Clara sends Paul a gift through the day's mail - a book of poetry. He is genuinely moved by her gesture. After the arrival of Clara's gift, the other girls notice that Paul looks unusually happy when he sees Clara.
Paul and Clara talk more freely and intimately now. She confesses that she had been married to Baxter for five years and admits that she was not thinking sensibly when she married him. When she tells him indirectly that she never loved Baxter in the kind of romantic, sexual way, Paul does not understand her words. Clara tells him that she left him because he was unfaithful to her.
After their conversation, Clara withdraws from Paul once again and broods over her relationship. Talking about her marriage to Paul makes her suffer. Absentmindedly, Clara takes off her wedding ring and plays with it, spinning it around.
Paul loves Miriam deeply and thinks about marrying her, but it is Clara he wants sexually. He still sees and writes Miriam, without the worrying and the moodiness he had exhibited before. Mrs. Morel believes that he is getting away from Miriam. Miriam, on the other hand, assures herself that the goodness in Paul will triumph and that he will return to her. She has faith in the belief that he will see that his feelings for Clara are shallow and temporary.
Clara and Miriam's own relationship has grown worse because of Paul. Clara is jealous when Paul tells her that he is going to Willey Farm to visit Miriam. When Paul admits that he wishes that his relationship with Miriam were normal instead of her wanting his soul, Clara suggests that perhaps he does not really know what Miriam wants from their relationship. Paul has never considered the idea that Miriam might love him for him until Clara speaks of it.
Paul wonders why he does not love Miriam in a physical, sexual way. He knows that if he did love her that way, he would marry her. He admits that he cannot reconcile the idea of physical contact with Miriam. Their virginity seems to be the only thing that stops them from a chance of a real relationship. Paul decides to give his relationship with Miriam another try. He has come to realize that his being a son of a woman whose husband damages her emotionally and mentally has made him more of a woman's constitution. When Paul hears Miriam sing one day, he is struck with the notion that he should have been more gentle and tender with her. He chastises himself angrily for being so cruel to her.
Mrs. Morel is surprised and hurt that Paul has chosen to see Miriam again. Now that Paul is a young man, there is nothing she can do to stop him from seeing Miriam. Mrs. Morel has become weary of her intervention in Paul and Miriam's relationship and gives up trying to stop the match. She feels that she cannot forgive him for doing this to himself, suffering for a woman.
Paul admits to Miriam that he would like to marry her, but his family depends on him and he does not make enough of an income to support them. He then confesses that their relationship would be perfect if he loved her physically. Miriam feels that she would wait for him to love her and touches him gently. Paul then kisses her, desisting the urge to drive away from her. His passion overcomes him and he kisses her deeply. Miriam tells him that she wants Paul to make love to her, but she pulls away at the last minute.
Miriam tells herself, "She would submit, religiously, to the sacrifice. He should have her. And at the thought her whole boy clenched itself involuntarily, hard, as if against something; but Life forced her through this gate of suffering, too, and she would submit. At any rate, it would give him what he wanted, which was her deepest wish." Part 2, Chapter 11, pg. 284
During a nighttime walk to the cherry orchard, Paul and Miriam feel that something in their relationship changes. Paul realizes that Miriam has not given all of her soul to their relationship, for he can feel that she is separated from him. Meanwhile, Miriam fears that she may lose him, for his response to nature and the night sky is one of absorption.
Miriam is sent to care for her grandmother in her grandmother's cottage. When she has the house alone for the day, Paul calls on her and spends the whole day with her. They act as man and wife in the little cottage, even making love for the first time. When Paul sees that Miriam acts reserved and calm, he asks her if she wants him. Miriam and Paul both know that she is sacrificing her virginity for him. After they make love and Paul returns home, he feels an emptiness in his soul. Miriam confesses that she is not ready to satisfy him sexually.
After a week of love, Paul decides that a relationship with Miriam would be futile. He spends time with Clara again, not realizing that the warmth in his relationship with Clara is lacking in his relationship with Miriam. As time goes on, he decides that the more time he spends with Clara, the more he hates Miriam.
Paul finally decides to break off his relationship with Miriam. He tells his mother that he does not love her, so he does not wish to marry her. Although Mrs. Morel is more than happy that her son is finally leaving Miriam, she cannot help but worry about Paul's feelings and emotions.
When Paul tells Miriam that they should break up, she is surprised and devastated. She asks him if the months they have spent together as lovers have meant anything to him. Paul repeatedly tells her that he does not wish to continue their relationship because he does not want to marry. When he speaks that they should live independently from each other, Miriam is too bitter and angry to see the truth in his words.
"She knew she felt in a sort of bondage to him, which she hated because she could not control it. She hated her love for him from the moment it grew too strong for her. And, deep down, she had hated him because she loved him and he dominated her. She had resisted his denomination. She had fought to keep herself free of him in the last issue. And she was free of him, even more than he of her." Part 2, Chapter 11, pg. 296
Mrs. Morel admits her fear to Paul that Miriam may not give up hopes of winning him still. Meanwhile, Miriam waits for Paul, alone in the world.
Paul makes a modest living from his paintings. He believes that if he really tries, he could become a famous painter. He worries about the health of his mother and wishes that she did not look so old and weary.
After he breaks off his relationship with Miriam, he goes straight to Clara. After Paul tells Clara that he has broken up with Miriam, Clara devotes herself to their relationship. Paul then kisses Clara. On the weekend, he cannot think of anything but Clara and yearns to go to work so that he can see her. On Monday, the two of them take a walk after work. While Paul is tempted to touch her and kiss her, Clara is reserved and moody. She finally asks him why he had broken up with Miriam. Paul responds that he did not want to be with Miriam and that he does not wish to marry, but he assures her that he does not care about the difference in their ages. He wants to be with her, even though she is five years older than he is. Paul knows that Clara loves him in a physical, sexual way that she could never love Baxter Dawes. They settle on a patch between two trees and they have sex. Paul is glowing with love for Clara. That night, everything in his life seems happy and good, now that he is with Clara.
When Paul returns home, Mrs. Morel notices that her son looks exceedingly happy and ecstatic. Her health is not as well as it can be, but she does not mention it to him. She coldly mentions that people will talk about his relationship with Clara, a married woman. Paul tells her that she is jealous, and he hesitates when he asks her if she would like to meet Clara. He tries to convince his mother that Clara is better for him than Miriam ever was.
Miriam learns about Paul's relationship with Clara from Paul himself. She defends Baxter Dawes, while Paul is on Clara's side. He knows that Miriam resents that he and Clara are together. The two of them talk about the Daweses' marriage in relation to the Morels'. Paul pensively shares his view about Clara and Baxter's troubled marriage, why it failed and compares it to his parents' marriage. He is sure that Clara left Dawes because he did not understand her.
Paul says, "'[Passion is] what one must have, I think - the real, real flame of feeling through another person - once, only once, if it lasts three months. See, my mother looks as if she'd had everything that was necessary for her living and developing. There's not a tiny bit of feeling of sterility about her.'" Part 2, Chapter 12, pg. 317
Miriam thinks about Paul's words and begins to realize what he is looking for in a relationship. To her, Paul needs a passionate, fiery soul to match his own and he would never be satisfied unless he has it.
She tells herself, "'If he must go, let him go and have his fill - something big and intense, he called it. At any rate, when he had got it, he would not want it - that he said himself; he would want the other thing that she could give him. He would want to be owned, so that he could work. It seemed to her a bitter thing that he must go, but she could let him go into an inn for a glass of whisky, so she could let him go to Clara, so long as it was something that would satisfy a need in him, and leave him free for herself to possess.'" Part 2, Chapter 12, pg. 318
Miriam is jealous and bitter when she hears that Clara is invited to the Morels' for tea. She privately wonders if Clara will be accepted by people who had been so cruel to herself. Paul invites her to join them. When Clara arrives at the Morels', Mr. and Mrs. Morel welcome her. She is scared at first, but she soon feels that she is part of the family. Miriam can also feel that the Morels accept Clara when she sees that Clara is happy there. She has a bitter tone in her voice as she leaves, which makes Paul feel guilty. His emotions turn upside-down when he hears his mother and Clara agreeing vehemently about Miriam's strong intensity for Paul and becomes angry. He believes that they have no right to talk about a girl who is more faithful and pious than they are. However, when he and Clara see Miriam in church, he can see that Miriam is glaring at them, and he becomes angry and cruel yet again. Then, Clara is still jealous of Paul and Miriam's relationship; Paul kisses her fervently and relentlessly to show that he wants her and not Miriam. Clara feels that she needs to escape from Paul's grasp and runs to catch the train. An abrupt and furious Paul sees that she makes the train and returns home in a dark mood. His mother admits that she likes Clara, but also tells him that he will tire of her.
Paul and Clara go to see a play in Nottingham. All throughout the evening, all Paul can think about or concentrate on is the beautiful Clara sitting beside him. Clara invites him to spend the night at her house, as he had missed the last train home. Mrs. Radford badgers Clara incessantly and ruthlessly, criticizing her dress, her manner and her temperament. Paul, hating to see Clara suffer so much, tries defending her.
They stay up late, talking and playing cribbage. Paul does not want to leave Clara's side, yet he cannot stand the sight of her mother, who still stays up with them. He wishes that Mrs. Radford would leave the two of them alone and go to bed; instead Mrs. Radford makes them stop playing and insists that they all go to bed. Paul goes to his room first and waits to see Clara downstairs while her mother is in bed. When he finds her half-undressed, he goes to her and asks her to sleep with him, but Clara refuses. Paul falls asleep wondering why Clara had refused. The next morning, Clara assumes an air of authority over him, which makes him happy. Paul feels so happy that he proposes that he, Clara and her mother go on a trip to the seaside together. Mrs. Radford tells him that he can do whatever he wants.