The Horse Dealer's Daughter by D. H. Lawrence

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Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The story occupies itself with D. H. Lawrence ’s major theme, the difference between what he called “mental consciousness” and “blood consciousness.” The characters are first introduced with this theme in mind. The brothers, “callous” but cowed by failure, are revealed as lacking that crucial tension: Joe is in a “stupor of downfall,” “a subject animal now”; Fred Henry is “not master of the situations of life” despite his mastery of horses; Malcolm is “the baby of the family,” “looking aimlessly.” All have a “sullen, animal pride,” and after years of living a brutal and coarse life, fathering illegitimate children with women of “bad reputations,” they lack Mabel’s “blood consciousness,” her ability to see the situation and respond deeply to it. Fergusson, whose “slight Scotch accent” foreshadows the severe repression he later reveals, represents “mental consciousness,” which has all the power of logic and science, but which cannot by itself...

(The entire section is 325 words.)