Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 378
In D. H. Lawrence's short story, “Tickets Please,” the main character Annie Stone works as a conductor on a Midlands tram service that because of the war is "entirely conducted by girls" and "driven by rash young men." Along with its packed cars and rowdy passengers, Lawrence describes it “as...
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In D. H. Lawrence's short story, “Tickets Please,” the main character Annie Stone works as a conductor on a Midlands tram service that because of the war is "entirely conducted by girls" and "driven by rash young men." Along with its packed cars and rowdy passengers, Lawrence describes it “as the most dangerous tram-service in England."
Nevertheless the dangerous nature of the job, and their similar ages, brings the male and female workers together. One man in particular, John Thomas Raynor, likes to take all the new pretty conductors out on dates. "There is," the author states, "considerable scandal about John Thomas in half a dozen villages." The only pretty conductor he keeps his distance from is Annie.
Annie seems to think John keeps his distance because he is afraid of her sharp tongue, but when they unexpectedly meet at a fair, John charms her to the point that Annie falls in love with him and they become somewhat of an item. John breaks up with Annie, however, when he feels Annie is getting too serious.
Annie is furious and alongside the other girls that John jilted, she concocts a plan to get back at him. The girls all gather in a waiting room at the depot and wait for John to arrive. He comes in in his usual cocksure way, “sunning himself in the presence of so many damsels.” One girl makes him a cup of tea and another girl called Muriel asks, "who're you going home with tonight, John Thomas?" When John tells them he is going home alone they insist he has to choose one of the them to take with him. When he refuses they begin to attack him, hitting, slapping, and kicking him. One girl "Nora had hold at the back of his collar, and was actually strangling him."
Finally, defeated and afraid, John tells them, if he had to choose, he would choose Annie. Annie pretends she doesn't care, telling him to choose again, but after John leaves she feels awful.
But without a word or sign he had opened the door and gone, his face closed, his head dropped.
‘That’ll learn him,’ said Laura.
‘Coddy!’ said Nora.
‘Shut up, for God’s sake!’ cried Annie fiercely, as if in torture.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 548
“Tickets, Please” is a story of unrequited love and the vengeance that it spawns. In its psychological depth and detail, however, it also reveals the sexual war that D. H. Lawrence believed always raged between men and women. The setting is of crucial importance to this story, for it reflects in several significant ways Lawrence’s themes. The background is World War I; because most of the healthy young men are away fighting in France, the trains are being driven by “cripples” and “hunchbacks,” and the conductors on this “most dangerous tram-service in England” are all women.
The chief inspector on Annie Stone’s line is John Thomas Raynor (nicknamed “Coddy” by the women), who is young and good-looking and who takes full advantage of his situation. He flirts with the conductors by day and “walks out” with them by night, and not a few have been forced to leave the service in “considerable scandal.”
Annie has kept her distance from John Thomas (she has a boyfriend of her own), but one night they meet unexpectedly at a local fair and spend an exciting, romantic evening together. With their continued intimacy, Annie becomes possessive. “Annie wanted to consider him a person, a man: she wanted to take an intelligent interest in him, and to have an intelligent response.” However, here, Lawrence says, “she made a mistake.” John Thomas has no intention of becoming an intelligent, serious person to her. He “walks out” with another young woman conductor on the line.
Annie is devastated by the rejection and vows revenge. She plots with Nora Purdy, another of John Thomas’s former girlfriends, and together they round up half a dozen former conquests of John Thomas. One dark Sunday night, when Annie has again agreed to walk home with John Thomas, they all meet in the “rough, but cosy” waiting room in the depot at the end of the line.
When John Thomas comes into the depot, he apparently senses the situation and says that he is going home by himself. However, the girls insist that he choose one of them to walk with: “Take one!” They force him to face the wall and guess which one touches him, and then, “like a swift cat, Annie went forward and fetched him a box on the side of the head that sent his cap flying and himself staggering.” All the other girls attack him now, and a game turns into a battle between the hunters and the hunted: “Their blood was now thoroughly up. He was their sport now.” They beat and subdue him until he is on the floor “as an animal lies when it is defeated and at the mercy of the captor.”
Even in defeat, however, John Thomas is clever, and when the women still demand that he choose one of them, he names their ringleader: “I choose Annie.” Annie, however, no longer wants him—“something was broken in her.” The women release him, John Thomas leaves in tatters, but there is no sense of triumph in the waiting room; the girls leave “with mute, stupefied faces.” They have wreaked their revenge and defeated their enemy, but in doing so they have also somehow destroyed the object of their desire, and there is no satisfaction in this victory.