Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Lawrence uses a disarmingly simple style for this tale of marital discord. It is not only appropriate in terms of allowing for a clearheaded examination of the Gee marriage, but it is also a succinct comment on the emotional tepidity with which the couple deal with their situation. The style reflects the lack of emotional commitment. The Gees are sensible, intelligent, and understanding; what they are not is passionate. Only at the end of the story does Mrs. Gee, for a short time, seem to have her feelings fully engaged, when she rejects the idea of being one of the blue birds fawning at the feet of her husband. The two blue-tits (an English breed of finch) may seem too obtrusively symbolic. The intrusion of battling male birds, with the suggestion of sexual competition, is an obvious symbol, made even more obvious by Mrs. Gee remarking on it in her determination to stop any suspicion that she might want to be part of this unhealthy competition for her husband’s attention.

Lawrence is less heavy-handed in his use of luxuriant flowers to suggest a self-indulgent Eden in which Gee lolls about with his adoring secretary at his feet. He is even defter in the way in which he has Miss Wrexall change into a silk dress of a color similar to that of the wife’s, when she is invited to take tea with the couple. The secretary’s suggestion that her dress is not quite as smart as that worn by Mrs. Gee is a juxtaposed symbol of what the contending women have to offer their lord and master. Mrs. Gee immediately retorts that smart or not, the secretary’s dress was, at least, paid for with hard-earned money, while she has done nothing to deserve her own. Lawrence’s wittiness,...

(The entire section is 687 words.)