Lawrence uses contrast in the play of light and dark throughout the story, which begins as the sun sets in the afternoon. The characters constantly draw attention to the quality of light, with Elizabeth
when she comes in after dark, and with John
complaining repeatedly that he can't see his food, craving more light and warmth from his home—just like his father, who goes to seek it at the brightly lit pubs in town. All the characters are constantly trying to escape the darkness—which represents death and solitude—even though it inevitably takes over as the story progresses from late afternoon to late evening, just as Walter's death takes over the course of the story, and, as Elizabeth realizes, death always takes over life.