34 pages 1 hour read

D. H. Lawrence

Odour of Chrysanthemums

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1911

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Important Quotes

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“The trucks thumped heavily past, one by one, with slow inevitable movement, as she stood insignificantly trapped between the jolting black waggons and the hedge.”

(Page 1)

The inevitability of the trucks’ movement symbolizes the seemingly unstoppable growth of industry and modernity. The woman is stuck between this and the hedge, representing nature and suggesting the powerlessness of the individual in the face of these huge forces shaping her world. She is also unnamed; a flat, static character shown only this once, highlighting her anonymity as just one person in a mass of working-class people. The use of the word “trapped” foreshadows Walter’s fate and reinforces that the people in this community are trapped by their circumstances.

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 “He [John] was dressed in trousers and waistcoat of cloth that was too thick and hard for the size of the garments. They were evidently cut down from a man’s clothes.”

(Page 2)

This simple description indicates the Bates’ economic circumstances—they cannot afford children’s clothes for John, so have repurposed adults’ clothes. It is also thematically significant—John is already being pushed into the role he will have to take as an adult, the man of a household. The clothes are tough and uncomfortable, showing the physically tough, harsh life that awaits John as a poor working man.

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“As the mother watched her son’s sullen little struggle with the wood, she saw herself in his silence and pertinacity; she saw the father in her child’s indifference to all but himself.”

(Page 4)

John’s sullenness as he struggles with his practical task embodies the idea that a life of physical struggle impacts a person emotionally, too, as this is already beginning with John. Elizabeth can see how he is already being shaped by her and Walter’s behaviors, which have arisen in response to the hardships they face.