The next important incident, at which the narrative appears to have caught up to the present, occurs on another wakes holiday when Morel goes out with his friend, Jerry Purdy. Jerry is Morel’s good friend, but Mrs. Morel does not like him. Jerry and Morel walk to Nottingham, which is ten miles away, and stop at all the pubs along the way. After a nap in a field, Morel does not feel so well. When he finally returns home, he has become irritable and has a fight with his wife, each calling the other a liar. He locks her outside in his anger and then falls asleep at the kitchen table. Mrs. Morel wanders in the yard for a while and eventually, after an hour of knocking at the door, succeeds in waking up her husband.
The novel thus far is told from a third person perspective, but the narrator is closest to Mrs. Morel. The narrator is partially omniscient; he can narrate the thoughts of Mrs. Morel, but not of the other characters. Throughout the novel the perspective of the narrator changes, so the best description of the narrative mode of the novel is probably third person omniscient.
This chapter sets up the importance of the relationship between William and his mother. Through the present of the egg-cups and the way that William acts when his mother is with him, we can see that he is proud of and loves his mother very much. We also see that she contributes to his enjoyment of the fair, as he is miserable after she leaves.
The hair-cutting incident also illustrates the way that William is the most important person to Mrs. Morel, since she is willing to throw over her husband in favor of her son.
When the narrator describes why Gertrude likes Morel, we see the importance of Morel’s difference from her father. This theme will come up again later when we see that William’s fiancee is very different from his mother.
In the flashback section of this chapter we see the first hint of the declining happiness of the Morels’ marriage: “for three months she was perfectly happy: for six months she was very happy.” This suggests that Mrs. Morel’s level of happiness declines steadily over the course of their marriage.