Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 395
This short story is set in an isolated farm in the English countryside where a blinded war veteran by the name of Maurice lives with his pregnant wife, Isabel. The story opens with Isabel sitting in the Grange, the name of the couple's abode, listening for the sounds of her husband returning from the barn and for the carriage of her friend Bertie Reid. Beginning the story with Isabel listening rather than watching for the two men is Lawrence's way of indicating that this is Maurice's world, a world where one must employ different senses to understand their surroundings. Ultimately, Isabel decides to go and fetch her husband back to the house, though when she enters the barn she feels nervous, given that she cannot see him too well in the dark. He shares her feelings of anxiety, and the pair discuss it while returning to the house, though neither can identify the source of it.
Bertie then arrives. While prior to the war he and Maurice had disliked one another, it had been Maurice's idea to invite the other man over when his wife mentioned a note that Bertie had sent her bemoaning the decline of their friendship. The three have dinner together, though conversation is difficult. Maurice in particular seems uncomfortable, as indicated by his upright posture. As soon as is polite, Maurice excuses himself and returns to his barn, leaving the two friends to catch up. Later in the night, Bertie volunteers to go and see how Maurice is doing—but, like Isabel, he feels uncomfortable negotiating the dark barn.
The two men enter into a conversation, and Maurice asks if he can touch Bertie's face, a request that Bertie grants, though not without apprehension. The experience is affirming to Maurice, who remarks that the other man seems younger and smaller than he had imagined him. Maurice then asks Bertie to touch his scarred eyes, thus demonstrating his heightened recognition of the world around him, as well as his understanding that Bertie, while able to adapt to situations (as in his agreement to be touched and touch Maurice in return), is psychologically fragile nonetheless.
When the pair return to the house, Isabel immediately sees what her husband has not: namely, that Bertie has been shaken by the experience and desires an immediate exit from an intimacy for which he was not prepared.