Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Not in front of the ladies!

Current book: Lady Chatterley's Lover
Pages read: 101 - 205

All this time, Connie has been nursemaid to Clifford, washing and dressing and shaving him in the mornings and attending to his needs. After a while, it starts to grind her down, not surprisingly, and her sister steps in and takes her to the doctor. The doctor basically orders her to stop taking care of Clifford's every whim, which proves he's not a complete quack, and so they hire a nurse from the local coal-mining village, Mrs. Bolton. Clifford feels betrayed because Connie will no longer take care of him like an infant. (He's kind of a dick. We hadn't really noticed yet, but now it's becoming clear.) Anyway, this frees Connie up to wander around the woods and run into the gamekeeper a lot. He's got a little hut out in the woods for raising pheasant chicks, and she starts to spend a lot of time there. Eventually, and sort of out of the blue, they have sex. (Or, I should say, he has sex with her while she lies there. It's very passive on her part, and she doesn't have an orgasm the first or second time they have sex. It's probably because, after Michaelis, she feels ashamed to try to achieve orgasm through her own efforts. (Have I mentioned that I hate Michaelis a lot? I hate him. A lot.)) They meet on several occasions, and finally, the third time, Connie reaches a slow and mind-blowing orgasm. (I'm not sensationalizing, I swear. In fact, I'm toning it down.)

Meanwhile, back at the estate, Clifford is becoming more and more enamored of Mrs. Bolton. He's not really interested in her romantically, but more as a mother figure, almost. She takes care of him more and more, spends all her time with him, and even plays cards with him and types manuscripts for him (jobs that used to be Connie's). She also tells him about the villagers and their petty squabbles and concerns about the poor output of the local mines. He subsequently takes an actual interest in his own property and begins working with the mine managers to improve production.

That's where we are right now. I'm a bit confused about what Lawrence is trying to say about sex and sexuality. It's clearly both important and complex, but the messages about it are so mixed and interpreted in so many different ways and by so many different characters that I'm having trouble sorting it out at this point. Lack of sex seems to have made Clifford into an infantile being who's consumed only with the idea of physical comfort and monetary success. Sex has driven Connie to sleep with two men outside of her marriage, one of whom was vicious to her and has made her afraid to take her own pleasure in sex, and the other of whom seems to be almost entirely a physical being to her, animal, even, and with whom she has achieved orgasm by sheer chemical arousal. So, is sex more important than physical fulfillment, or isn't it? I can't say right now, but will have to come to conclusions later when I know more about where all of this is leading.

Also, Lawrence talks about penises a lot. You're just reading along, and all of a sudden, in the midst of a description of walking through the woods or something, he'll go, "His penis began to stir like a live bird." I'm not saying it's a problem, but I have to admit it's a little surprising. I'm expecting it in the sex scenes, but not so much in the rest of the narrative. (What can I say? It's kind of like if you were having a conversation with someone and all of sudden he said, "I was walking through the woods on a nice day, the birds were singing, and my penis started to get erect..." It's just weird.)

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