Sons and Lovers Part 2, Chapters 13-15
Paul has an odd relationship with Baxter Dawes, who is growing weaker and more infirm. He has a bad reputation now, having been in prison for a night and having been rumored that he was involved in a betting match. Yet Paul feels a connection to the former husband of Clara's and decides to form a relationship. As he is the employee with the higher status, he buys Dawes a drink.
Dawes taunts Paul about Clara. He had seen Paul and Clara coming out of the theatre that night. The other men at the bar are surprised that Paul is courting a lady that Baxter knows. When Dawes remarks something cruel about Clara and Paul, a furious Paul throws his glass of beer in his face. Dawes rushes forward to fight with Paul, but other men stop him. Paul hates and pities Dawes at the same time.
Paul hopes that the rift between Dawes and himself does not reach his mother. His life now includes feelings and thoughts he cannot express to his mother, feelings about his sexual life.
He feels that "sometimes he hated her, and pulled at her bondage. His life wanted to free itself of her. It was like a circle where life turned back on itself, and got no farther. She bore him, loved him, kept him, and his love turned back into her, so that he could not be free to go forward with his own life, really love another woman." Part 2, Chapter 13, pg. 345
Clara begs Paul to carry a weapon like a knife or a revolver to protect him from Dawes. Paul shrugs off her worries. When he bumps into Dawes at work one day, Dawes tries to threaten him to no avail. Already angered, Dawes becomes furious all the more when Clara calls Paul on the telephone. Thomas Jordan himself comes out of his office to tell Dawes to calm down and work when Dawes pushes Jordan away - and through the door leading downstairs to the factory room. Luckily only bruised from his fall, Jordan fires Dawes and sends him to trial for assault. At the trial, Paul is supposed to give his side of evidence, but he speaks of the rift between Dawes and himself at the bar because Dawes wanted revenge on Clara and himself. Clara is angry with Paul for mentioning her name in court.
Paul talks about his relationship with Clara to his mother. He knows that he loves her, but he cannot imagine marrying her. When Mrs. Morel repeats that he will want to marry when he finds the right woman, Paul declares that he will never meet the right woman as long as he has his mother.
Even Clara can see that Paul is restless. She asks him about his plans for the future. He is unsure about his future plans, but he knows that his future includes his mother. A miserable Paul asks Clara if they can just concentrate on the present. Clara takes him into her arms and makes love to him.
"She knew how stark and alone he was, and she felt it was great that he came to her; and she took him simply because his need was bigger either than her or him, and her soul was still within her. She did this for him in his need, even if he left her, for she loved him." Part 2, Chapter 13, pg. 353
However, Clara feels unfulfilled, unsatisfied and unsure about her relationship with Paul. She feels that she has not won him yet. Clara desires him even more now. She feels that she needs to be next to him, touch him, and kiss him all the time. Clara's excessive passion irritates Paul, who begins to realize that even Clara cannot fuel his spirit and his soul. For all of their problems, they stay together.
They travel to the Lincolnshire coast many times. The dark and desolate areas of the beach please him, while his gazing at the scenery irritates Clara. As Paul watches Clara swim in the sea, he thinks to himself, "'She's lost like a grain of sand in the beach - just a concentrated speck blown along, a tiny white foam-bubble, almost nothing among the morning. Why does she absorb me?'" Part 2, Chapter 13, pg. 358
Paul realizes that it is not Clara he cares for. He asks her to go off with her mother one day - he wants to be alone. Not only does he feel "imprisoned" when he is with her, Clara also feels that he yearns to break free from her. Part 2, Chapter 13, pg. 359
When Clara tells Paul that she belongs to him, she also declares that Baxter belongs to her. Paul replies that she cannot belong to him because she does not want to divorce Dawes. Clara knows that she can never have him because she cannot control the unchecked fire in him, and Paul knows that she will always consider herself Mrs. Dawes. What she shares with Dawes Clara knows that she and Paul do not share, and that is the self-assurance she assumes when she is with Dawes. Paul's response to Clara's declaration in that she belongs to him is true; Clara herself admits that neither one of them belong to the other. Their passion seems to be the only thing that keeps them together, but even their passion is mechanical and less exciting. They realize that their love has failed somewhat.
Dawes meets up with Paul one evening and punches him. Paul, the weaker of the two, is hurt as Dawes relentlessly punches his jaw and mouth until pure fury and instinct drive him to fight harder and harsher. When Dawes psyches Paul out by yielding to his blows, Paul falls for Dawes's trick. Paul is helpless as Dawes beats him harder until he is unconscious. Later that night, Paul wakes up and hurries home, anxious to return to his mother's love and comfort. When he awakens the next morning, Mrs. Morel is scared and devastated by his wounds. Neither she nor Paul mentions Clara until she calls on them; even then Paul remarks that Clara tires him out.
He still goes with Clara, but he feels a constant sickness in his heart, a sickness that something is not right with their relationship. Confused by Paul's behavior, Clara questions herself why he feels so separated from her and distances herself from him. He begins to hate Clara.
When Paul advises his mother to visit Annie for a week in her home in Sheffield while he takes a trip to Blackpool with his friend Newton, Mrs. Morel readily agrees with him. Paul believes that the change of scenery will heal his mother's bad heart and indigestion.
Aftere a few relaxing days at Blackpool, Paul visits Annie and is surprised when she tells him that their mother is very ill. Paul is devastated when he sees his mother sitting in bed and looking so ill and starts crying. Mrs. Morel tries to comfort him, but Paul is miserable and inconsolable. She has a tumor on a side of her body.
An equally miserable Annie tells Paul that their mother has had a lump on her side for many months but she has never told anyone. They feel ashamed for not caring for their mother better. When Paul tries to feed her, she cannot eat nor drink. Mrs. Morel looks frail and thin, and Paul thinks to himself that she looks almost dead.
At work, Clara occupies Paul's thoughts. Paul goes home to tell his father of his mother's illness. Without anyone else home but their little maid, the house is quiet and empty. Paul realizes that his father is lonely and sad without his mother. Morel comes to visit his wife soon afterwards, looking forlorn and helpless. He tries not to cry in front of his wife.
Dawes is in the hospital for his fever. The doctor who sees Mrs. Morel tells Paul that Dawes has been in the hospital, and Paul calls on him. He cannot help but feel that he is connected to Dawes and must see how Dawes is doing. Dawes talks to Paul graciously and offers him suggestions on how to rent a car to drive his mother home. He also considers Paul's advice when the latter recommends checking into a convalescent home.
Mrs. Morel's condition weakens considerably. She wants to return home, so her children rent a motor-car to drive her home in. Their neighbors see that Mrs. Morel is nearly dying, from the look on her face.
Paul tells Clara that he had gone to see Dawes. Visibly upset by the news that Dawes is ill, Clara chastises herself that she had been so cruel to him. Paul is thunderstruck when Clara declares that her husband loved her more than Paul ever loved her. Clara goes to see her husband as soon as possible, wanting to kneel before him and humble herself to him.
As Mrs. Morel weakens, Paul thinks about nothing but his mother. They both know that she is dying. Paul can never forget the stubborn look in his mother's face. Both Paul and his mother avoid the topic of her impending death. They know that she will die soon, and they submit themselves to that fact painfully.
Mrs. Morel's illness has its toll on Paul. It hurts him to see his mother in so much pain for him; he and she know that she wants to live for him. Clara sees the change in Paul and is scared of him - he has become so forbidding and isolated.
"It was almost as if he were a criminal. He wanted her - he had her - and it made her feel as if death itself had her in its grip. She lay in horror. There was no man there loving her." Part 2, Chapter 14, pg. 387
Paul and Clara go to the seaside for her birthday, but his thoughts are so focused on his mother that he seems to forget that Clara is next to him. Clara feels his distance and her heart saddens because Paul evidently will not give up his mother. Paul quietly tells Clara that his mother will never give herself to death. Paul tells Clara, "'She's got such a will, it seems as if she would never go - never!'" Part 2, Chapter 14, pg. 388 Paul wishes desperately that his mother would die, but his mother is of a clan who is intensely stubborn in dying.
Paul and Dawes talk. Paul confesses that Clara has been tired of him. Dawes regrets that he had punched Paul so long ago. Paul tells him of his desire to go abroad when his mother dies.
Mrs. Morel suffers with great pain, yet her stubborn willingness to live for her son perseveres. Weeks pass by as Paul is restless for help. He goes to see Miriam, whose tender kisses cannot take the pain and agony away. Paul and Annie wish that the doctor would give their mother something to put an end to her pain, but Mrs. Morel remains as constant in her breaths as she did before.
"Sometimes they looked in each other's eyes. Then they almost seemed to make an agreement. It was almost as if he were agreeing to die also. But she did not consent to die; she would not. Her body was wasted to a fragment of ash. Her eyes were dark and full of torture." Part 2, Chapter 14, pg. 392
A couple of weeks before Christmas, Annie and Paul fear that their mother will live after the holidays, so they decide to give her an extra dosage of morphia. Paul crushes all of the pills and puts them into his mother's nightly milk. Mrs. Morel drinks it despite its bitter taste.
Late into the night, Annie calls Paul to their mother's room. Mrs. Morel is on her deathbed, gasping and drawing in long, hoarse breaths. Their father sleeps on, undisturbed by the hoarse sounds of his wife. Paul asks Annie to leave him alone with their mother. His mother's long, painful breaths are painful for him to hear and watch. Morel awakens and comes into the room, horrified and scared, but Paul tells his father to go to work.
Annie, Paul and Arthur cannot bear to see their mother like this. Likewise, the nurse and the neighbors are shocked that Mrs. Morel has lasted so long. The next morning, Paul is waiting downstairs when Annie rushes in, crying. Their mother has died.
Morel has been home from work for some time when Paul finally tells him that Mrs. Morel has died. Annie asks him if he had seen her yet; Morel replies no and leaves the house. When his father returns, Paul realizes that he had been scared to be alone with his dead wife, let alone go to bed. Paul can finally read his father's fears for once.
Paul is alone in the house except for his mother. Paul looks at his dead mother. She looks like a young maiden waiting for her lover, he realizes. He pretends that she will wake up and kiss him, but when he kisses her, he feels coldness and harshness. Paul feels that he can never let his mother go.
Morel finally gathers up his courage to look at his dead wife alone. He is too frightened and scared to look at his wife closely. Morel looks at her and sees that she is his young wife again. His solitary visit is the last time he looks at her.
After Mrs. Morel's funeral, Paul is restless. He knows that Clara does not satisfy him any longer and that she wants to reunite with Dawes. He and Dawes have become friends. Paul tells him that Clara is coming to visit them as Dawes's wife and that Annie's husband, Leonard, can get him a job in Sheffield. Dawes admits that he is not sure if he wants Clara anymore. Paul confesses that Clara had always belonged to Dawes and not himself because she still wants her husband.
Clara arrives. Watching Paul and Dawes together, Clara sees things about Paul she had never seen before.
"And now he looked paltry and insignificant. There was nothing stable about him. Her husband had more manly dignity. At any rate he did not waft about with any wind. There was something evanescent about Morel, she thought, something shifting and false. He would never make sure ground for any woman to stand on. She despised him rather for his shrinking together, getting smaller. Her husband at least was manly, and when he was beaten gave in. But this other would never own to being beaten. He would shift round and round, prowl, get smaller." Part 2, Chapter 14, pg. 407
When Clara asks her husband if he wants her again, he responds if she wants to return to her. She begs him to take her back, and they reconcile in each other's arms.
Paul feels incredibly lonely without his mother. He needs someone by her own will to love him and help him. Paul feels that Clara did not want the Paul Morel whose troubles and worries she cannot cope with.
Paul lives in Nottingham, while his father lives with friends in Bestwood - they cannot bear to be in the house alone. Paul feels that his life is dull and unsatisfying; he has no desire to paint, Clara is with Dawes, and of course, his mother is gone. Days and weeks are undistinguishable and unmeaningful. He has no desire to live at all until he hears his will speak to him. His will urges Paul to live as if his mother is living, to live for her sake. His will also urges him to either paint or have children. Paul questions if he should marry Miriam.
Paul sees Miriam at church one evening and invites her for dinner. Miriam tells him that she is going to farming school and that she will be a teacher. She suggests that they should marry so that she might prevent him from hurting himself more. Paul replies slowly that marriage would not be good for either of them, adding that he would like to go abroad soon. Miriam desperately yearns to take him in her arms and comfort him, but she fears that he will not let her. Paul, seeing her appeal to him with her eyes, tells her with great pain that he does not want to marry her. They know that this conversation is the end of their relationship. Miriam feels that all that she could offer him is her sacrificing herself for him every day, and he does not want that from her. She knows that he wants her to be strong and authoritative, but she cannot be that. Paul, also, knows that, as much as he wants to be with Miriam, he will rob his inner self if he stays with her.
As Paul drives Miriam home, she thinks about what will become of him. She worries about his future, but she decides that she will wait for him to come to her. Paul drops her off at home and returns home, thinking. He knows that his mother has always been in his soul.
"She was the only thing that held him up, himself, amid all this. And she was gone, intermingled herself. He wanted her to touch him, have him alongside with her. But no, he would not give in...He would not take that direction, to the darkness, to follow her." Part 2, Chapter 15, pg. 420