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Sons and Lovers

D.H. Lawrence

Chapter 4: The Young Life of Paul

Summary Chapter 4: The Young Life of Paul


This chapter begins by describing the way that Paul, in the absence of William, bonded most closely with his sister Annie. She was a tomboy, who played games with the other neighborhood children, and Paul would quietly tag along behind her. One day, while Annie’s favorite doll is lying covered up on the sofa, Paul jumps off the sofa arm and lands on the doll. Annie is very upset, but her brother is perhaps more upset at her grief. A few days later, Paul suggests that they make a sacrifice of the doll, and they burn and smash its remains.

One evening when Paul comes home, he finds his father and older brother in the midst of an argument, which only fails to come to blows because of Mrs. Morel’s intervention.

The family moves out of the Bottoms into a house with an ash-tree, which makes noise when the wind blows through it. Morel likes it, but the children hate it.

Morel still comes home late and drunk most nights, and Paul begins to worry because his mother is worrying about his father. One night he goes out to play, then at night anxiously runs into the kitchen to check on his mother. When he finds that his father has not come, he goes to visit Mrs. Inger, who lives two doors down and has no children of her own. He talks to her for a while, then goes home.

When Morel finally does come home, he is usually rude and irritable. During this time period he becomes more and more shut out from the family affairs, as the children begin to tell their mother everything and their father nothing. This is illustrated by the example of Paul’s prize, which his mother convinces him to tell his father about. During their conversation, it becomes apparent that Morel is an outsider in his own family.

The next part of the narration, however, describes the times of happiness between Morel and his children. When he is happily engrossed in his work, he gets along well with his children. He tells stories, like the ones about Taffy the horse. On these nights, when Morel has some job to do, he goes to bed early and the children feel secure when he is in bed.

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