Sons and Lovers
Chapter 2: The Birth of Paul, and Another Battle
Morel feels ashamed for bullying his wife. He also realizes her difficulties and begins to be somewhat more helpful. One morning Mrs. Morel summons her neighbor, Mrs. Kirk, by banging on the back of the fireplace with the poker, and tells her to fetch Mrs. Bower, the midwife. She gives birth to a boy and is very ill. Her husband comes home and is told by Mrs. Bower that he has a son. He asks her for a drink and then, after he has had his dinner, goes up to see his wife and son.
We are then introduced to Mr. Heaton, the Congregational clergyman, who comes to visit Mrs. Morel every day. One day Morel comes home while he is still visiting and begins to make a scene by enumerating the difficulties of working in the mine. Mrs. Morel feels disgusted by her husband’s tendency to play for sympathy with those around him.
One evening after a quarrel with her husband, Mrs. Morel takes Annie and the baby and goes for a walk near the cricket fields. She seems at peace and feels strongly for her baby son; she has a sudden instinct to call him Paul.
The next major battle between the Morels begins when Walter comes home late and drunk again and accidentally pulls out a kitchen drawer in his haste to get something to eat. When his wife tells him she will not wait on him, he becomes enraged and flings the drawer at her, cutting her forehead on the corner of the drawer. For the few days after this incident, Morel refuses to get out of bed. When he finally gets up, he immediately goes to the Palmerston, one of his favorite bars, and this is where he spends the next several nights.
One night, however, he finds himself out of money, and therefore takes a sixpence from his wife’s purse. She notices that it is missing and confronts him, upon which he becomes very indignant. He then goes upstairs and returns with a bundle and says he is leaving. Mrs. Morel feels sure that he will return that night, but she begins to get worried when he has not returned by dark. However, she finds his bundle hidden behind the door of the coal-shed and begins to laugh. Morel sulkily returns later that evening and his wife tells him to fetch his bundle before going to bed.
This chapter mainly serves the purpose of providing more examples of the battles between Mr. and Mrs. Morel. It also contains a few examples of the themes that have already been noted.
In this chapter, the way the narrative perspective shifts between characters is illustrated by a brief shift to Morel’s perspective: he insists to himself that the quarrel is Mrs. Morel’s fault.
Morel also reflects that having his family around him at meals makes the meals less pleasant. This suggests that Morel prefers to be separated from his family, in contrast to his wife, who lives for her children.
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