Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Paging Dr. Kevorkian

Current book: Sons and Lovers
Pages read: All of them!

So, here's my thing about D. H. Lawrence not finishing what he's started: he creates complex, emotionally interesting characters that are clearly functioning within a realistic society that he's using as a critical model of actual society, and then he fails to do anything interesting with them. There are two major viewpoints one could espouse about this choice: 1 - he's maintaining the realism that he began with and working hard at portraying the lives of his characters in a way that makes them representative of the vast majority of the population, thereby capturing both the truth and the everyday tragedy that is this, our modern existence or 2 - he's failing to develop the potential with which he began into a more complex culmination of his ideas, which would allow his reader to resonate not only with his portrayal of the society he's critiquing, but also with the messages he wishes to convey about that which is good and bad in this, our modern existence. As you can probably guess, I'm going with interpretation number two.

I'm just left at the end of this novel going, "And...?" I mean, don't get me wrong; I understand the point. I get that Lawrence is creating a portrait of what happens when the relationship between a husband and wife is so flawed that the wife is forced to translate her love entirely to her children, especially to her sons. What happens, of course, is that the relationship becomes a distorted one, creating a sense of both resentment and attachment in the child and codependence in both the mother and child. That codependence, in turn, can easily influence the ability of the child, when grown, to function in a normal adult relationship. But notice how this analysis is coming out sounding dry and scientific? That's because the information that D. H. Lawrence is communicating in this novel comes across as just that - dry and scientific information, rather than a plot. It's strange how he manages to create interesting characters that I'm emotionally involved with, and then proceeds to completely lose me on the novel as a whole. I don't often experience that particular issue. Point being, I think he's a good writer and he's got a lot to offer; I just haven't seem him offer it yet. Not one of the 100 greatest, I'm afraid. Maybe Lady Chatterly's Lover will give me what I want.

Oh, also, I forgot to mention yesterday that when Paul's mother is dying, he acts pretty atrociously toward her. There are several months when he's taking care of her during which he scolds her for eating and exhorts her not to, since it will just prolong her inevitable end. I see where he's coming from, but, seriously, Paul, we don't starve the terminally ill to death in order to make the process faster. At one point, she asks for food, and Paul gives her the evil eye, and she tells him that's she's sorry, but it just gnaws so much when she doesn't eat. And he says that it's the cancer gnawing at her. And I'm like, "No, Paul. We call that hunger." Oy. He ends up killing her, actually, with an overdose of morphine; that part I don't have a huge problem with, although you could make some ethical arguments about it. She's dying anyway, and she's in a great deal of pain, so I feel like I'm kind of ok with painless euthanasia, as it were, but starving her to death while she's conscious and asking for food? I can't really go there with you, Paul.

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