As in so much of Lawrence’s fiction, the style in “Tickets, Please” helps to control the raw power of his content and thus becomes an integral part of the meaning. “Tickets, Please” opens almost like a children’s story, and the description of the Midlands tramway system reads like something out of “The Little Engine That Could” or—in a parallel from the story itself—the carnival rides that Annie takes with John Thomas. However, even in these opening paragraphs, there is a crucial contrast between the playful personification of the train and the “sordid streets” and “grimy cold little market-places” of this depressed and depressing industrial England. From the beginning, there is a contradiction in tone as there is in content (between, for example, the two conditions of women in the story, before and after their overthrow of John Thomas).
The narrator of “Tickets, Please” helps to mask this gap. There is a casual, familiar “we” in the opening narration: “Since we are in wartime.” This editorial “we” tends to moralize: “The girls are fearless young hussies,” the voice intones. After Annie starts seeing John Thomas and some of the other conductors are “huffy” to her, this voice is consoling: “But there, you must take things as you find them, in this life.” The narrator is preparing for the defeat at the conclusion; it is a voice of order and stability.
The language of the story also carries...
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