58 pages 1 hour read

D. H. Lawrence

Sons and Lovers

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1913

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Part 1, Chapters 1-3Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary: “The Early Married Life of the Morels”

Content Warning: This section refers to alcohol addiction, domestic violence, death, and involuntary euthanasia.

Sons and Lovers begins in the late 19th century. The Bottoms is the name of a neighborhood in Bestwood, Derbyshire, in the north of England. The Bottoms is largely populated by a community of miners and their families. Walter Morel is one such miner. He is married to Gertrude Morel, who is pregnant with their third child. Seven-year-old William, their eldest son, is excited to visit a local fair. Annie, the younger sibling, attends with her mother, while William buys a set of flowered eggcups for his mother. Annie clings to Gertrude as they move through the busy crowd. That evening, Gertrude thinks about the difficulties of raising children amid such “poverty and ugliness and meanness” (11). During this time, Walter is drinking in a bar. He does not return home until just before midnight.

Gertrude’s father was an engineer. Growing up, Gertrude was an intelligent young girl. She befriended John Field, a well-mannered boy from a good family who once gave her a Bible. John wanted to become a priest rather than inherit his father’s business. Gertrude counseled John to follow his dreams, as she would have done if she were a man.