Sons and Lovers HTML version
PART I: 6. Death In The Family
ARTHUR MOREL was growing up. He was a quick, careless, impulsive boy, a
good deal like his father. He hated study, made a great moan if he had to work,
and escaped as soon as possible to his sport again.
In appearance he remained the flower of the family, being well made, graceful,
and full of life. His dark brown hair and fresh colouring, and his exquisite dark
blue eyes shaded with long lashes, together with his generous manner and fiery
temper, made him a favourite. But as he grew older his temper became
uncertain. He flew into rages over nothing, seemed unbearably raw and irritable.
His mother, whom he loved, wearied of him sometimes. He thought only of
himself. When he wanted amusement, all that stood in his way he hated, even if
it were she. When he was in trouble he moaned to her ceaselessly.
"Goodness, boy!" she said, when he groaned about a master who, he said, hated
him, "if you don't like it, alter it, and if you can't alter it, put up with it."
And his father, whom he had loved and who had worshipped him, he came to
detest. As he grew older Morel fell into a slow ruin. His body, which had been
beautiful in movement and in being, shrank, did not seem to ripen with the years,
but to get mean and rather despicable. There came over him a look of meanness
and of paltriness. And when the mean-looking elderly man bullied or ordered the
boy about, Arthur was furious. Moreover, Morel's manners got worse and worse,
his habits somewhat disgusting. When the children were growing up and in the
crucial stage of adolescence, the father was like some ugly irritant to their souls.
His manners in the house were the same as he used among the colliers down
"Dirty nuisance!" Arthur would cry, jumping up and going straight out of the house
when his father disgusted him. And Morel persisted the more because his
children hated it. He seemed to take a kind of satisfaction in disgusting them, and
driving them nearly mad, while they were so irritably sensitive at the age of
fourteen or fifteen. So that Arthur, who was growing up when his father was
degenerate and elderly, hated him worst of all.
Then, sometimes, the father would seem to feel the contemptuous hatred of his
"There's not a man tries harder for his family!" he would shout. "He does his best
for them, and then gets treated like a dog. But I'm not going to stand it, I tell you!"
But for the threat and the fact that he did not try so hard as be imagined, they
would have felt sorry. As it was, the battle now went on nearly all between father
and children, he persisting in his dirty and disgusting ways, just to assert his
independence. They loathed him.
Arthur was so inflamed and irritable at last, that when he won a scholarship for
the Grammar School in Nottingham, his mother decided to let him live in town,
with one of her sisters, and only come home at week-ends.