Pair work (15 min.)
Students will reread the text "Odour of Chrysanthemums" with a specific
observation goal in mind. In pairs they will consider particular topics and collect facts
to prove their statements.
- the two women
- the manager and the colliers
- the dead body
- the place
- the title
- the point of view
- the language
Reporting (15 min.)
Moderated by the teacher, the students inform the class about their observations and
conclusions. They try to grasp DHL by finding evidence for:
|his criticism of industrialization, which forces people to live in impossible
circumstances and kills them mercilessly;|
|his criticism of hypocritical morality, which prohibits people from truly meeting each
Completion group document (15 min.)
In groups of three the students add informative paragraphs about the above topics to
their final group report. They make links with existing pages.
|keeps functioning (mops up water, quietens the children, decides what must be done,
washes the man, ...)|
|is pregnant ("the child was like ice in her womb")|
|looks at the man from an erotic point of view (embraces the body, "a man of
handsome body", "blond, full-fleshed, with fine limbs")|
|realizes her marriage was a poor one but doesnt blame her husband for it
("She knew she had never seen him, he had never seen her, they had met in the dark
and had fought in the dark, not knowing whom they met or whom they fought.")|
|harsh and impolite ("Wheer will you have him?" is the first thing he says to
|gives brisk orders to the colliers ("Lay the stretcher at the side," snapped
the manager. "In there, Jim", "Mind now, mind!")|
|pities himself ("What a job, what a job, to be sure!")
|doesnt seem to realize that his description of the accident must hurt the
relatives. ("Seems as if it was done on purpose. Shut him in, like a mousetrap"
- he made a sharp, descending gesture with his hand.)|
|leaves the house without condoling with the women, without even greeting Elizabeth|
|shows no wounds, no bruises ("not a mark on him")|
|blond, full fleshed, with fine limbs|
|mouth slightly open... (as if ready to speak!)|
|eyes, half open, dont show glazed (as if hes watching!)|
|still warm ("for the mine was hot where he had died")|
Conclusion: the body doesnt look dead. It is no more dead than when it was alive!
Death has restored the truth: "They had been two isolated beings, far apart as
|two rooms on the ground floor: parlour and pantry (typical cité-house)|
|small: when the colliers get in with the stretcher they knock off a vase of flowers and
when they leave they have to step over the body...|
|bad insulation: in their bedroom the children hear the moaning of the mother-in-law and
downstairs one understands every word Elizabeth whispers to her little daughter.|
Conclusion: one can imagine the lack of privacy in such a place, where three generation
live together and everyone hears what the others are doing. Perhaps these sad living
circumstances condemned Elizabeth and her husband to remaining strangers to each other.
Odour of Chrysanthemums
(Relevant to students who are acquainted with narrative techniques...)
Typical of DHL is the narrator who switches from neutral omniscience to selective
omniscience, and back to neutral. At moments of high emotions, Lawrence gets so close to
some of his characters that he identifies with them. There is no distance then between the
narrator and the character. After emotions have peaked, the narrator leaves his selective
point of view and becomes the neutral observer again -- a proof of instinctive behaviour!
|neutral omniscience: most of the time. |
"The door came open , and the two women saw a collier backing into the
|selective omniscience: when we come so close to Elizabeth that we dont see nor
hear anyone else any more, i.a. each time when DHL uses free indirect speech.|
"The child was like ice in her womb."
"And all the while her heart was bursting with grief and pity for him. She
could make no reparation."
"It was finished then. It had become hopeless between them long before he
died. yet he had been her husband. But how little!"
|Some might say we look at things from Elizabeths point of view all the time, that
the narrator - and therefore the reader - is with her all the time. This isnt true.
E.g. when Elizabeth mounts the stairs the narrator remains behind:|
"They could hear her on the boards, and on the plaster floor of the little
"There was silence for a moment, then the men heard the frightened child
"Then she must have bent down and kissed the children."
"In most cases the human being who is affected by an emotion, is not the
grammatical subject of the sentence; it is the feeling itself which is grammatical subject
and agent of the sentence." (H. Servotte)
|"The old tears fell in succession as drops from wet leaves, the mother was not
weeping, merely her tears flowed;"|
|"The child was like ice in her womb."|
|"For as she looked at the dead man, her mind, cold and detached, said clearly:
|"And all the while her heart was bursting with grief and pity for him."|
Helen Croom's view on
"Odour of Chrysanthemums"