Sons and Lovers
Chapter 15: Derelict
Clara goes back to Sheffield with her husband, and Paul is left alone with his father. There is no point in keeping their house any longer, so they each take lodgings nearby. Paul is lost without his mother. He can no longer paint, and he puts all of his energy into his work at the factory. He has debates within himself, telling himself that he must stay alive for his mother’s sake. However, he wants to give up.
One Sunday evening, however, he sees Miriam at the Unitarian Church. He asks her to have supper with him quickly and she agrees. She tells him that she has been going to a farming college and will probably be kept on as a teacher there. She says that she thinks they should be married, and he says he’s not sure that would be much good. He says he does not want it very much, and so she gives up. That is the end between them. She leaves him, realizing that “his soul could not leave her, wherever she was.”
Paul, alone, yearns for his mother and considers following her into death. However, he decides to leave off thinking about suicide, and instead walks toward the town.
This chapter is Miriam’s last attempt finally to possess Paul, now that the obstacle of his mother is out of the way. However, by the end she sees the futility of her efforts and realizes that, even in death, Mrs. Morel still owns Paul and he can never be hers.
Paul says of his mother that, “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.” This completes the book’s treatment of the relationship between Paul and Mrs. Morel and illustrates the way that his love for her has remained constant throughout.
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