Odour of Chrysanthemums

by: D. H. Lawrence

Important Quotations Explained

1. She worked at her sewing with energy, listening to the children, and her anger wearied itself, lay down to rest, opening its eyes from time to time and steadily watching, its ears raised to listen. Sometimes even her anger quailed and shrank, and the mother suspended her sewing . . .

In this passage, just before the end of section I, Elizabeth tries to distract herself from waiting for Walter, and her anger takes on a life of its own. While Elizabeth sews, her anger keeps vigil, resting or rousing itself whenever footsteps go by outside. This description makes Elizabeth’s anger almost catlike, and we can imagine the anger like a restless pet that seems to be watching and listening even as it sleeps. Attributing animate qualities to this anger suggests that Elizabeth has harbored it for so long that it has taken on a life of its own. It is outside of her control, persisting even when she herself would rather quiet her mind and wait in peace. At the end of the story, when Elizabeth understands that both she and Walter were responsible for the disintegration of their marriage, we can assume that this constant, rootless anger is partly to blame for their problems. Walter was far from innocent, and Elizabeth’s anger often had a just cause. It is the animate quality of her anger, however, that makes it more than just an ordinary emotional response. It has become, for Elizabeth, a way of life and constant companion.