Odour of Chrysanthemums


D. H. Lawrence

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Wife/Husband Relationships Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
Isolation of Individual Lives Theme Icon
Mother/Children Relationships Theme Icon
Wife/Husband Relationships Theme Icon
Life vs. Death Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Odour of Chrysanthemums, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Wife/Husband Relationships Theme Icon

Once Elizabeth's attention turns towards her husband, her feelings become resentful and angry. She blames him for upsetting the household and drinking too much. For example, Elizabeth regards chrysanthemum flowers bitterly because they were present when she married Walter and when the other men carried Walter back after he started drinking. She connects them with the resentment and regret she feels towards her marriage, holding onto those feelings without the same willingness to forgive that she shows towards her children. Even after she begins to worry about Walter and goes to search for him, she stubbornly believes that he likely went to the pub. Her anger towards him is almost a habit that she's unable to let go of. She realizes this later when looking at Walter's dead body, as his death finally shocks her out of her habitual resentment long enough to realize that the disappointment lay on both sides—she didn't make him happy either, since she never recognized who he was, busy as she was with resenting his influence on her life.

Elizabeth's relationship with her unborn child actually reflects her feelings towards her husband more than her feelings towards her children. As the baby is still unborn and unformed, she feels that its presence is more a reminder of the distance between her and Walter, rather than a child she has maternal feelings for.

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Wife/Husband Relationships ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Wife/Husband Relationships appears in each section of Odour of Chrysanthemums. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Wife/Husband Relationships Quotes in Odour of Chrysanthemums

Below you will find the important quotes in Odour of Chrysanthemums related to the theme of Wife/Husband Relationships.
Part 1 Quotes

As the mother watched her son's sullen little struggle with the wood, she saw herself in his silence and pertinacity; she saw the father in her child's indifference to all but himself. She seemed to be occupied by her husband. He had probably gone past his home, slunk past his own door, to drink before he came in, while his dinner spoiled and wasted in waiting.

Related Characters: Elizabeth, Walter, John
Related Literary Devices:
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

"I canna see."
"Good gracious!" cried the mother irritably, "you're as bad as your father if it's a bit dusk!"
Nevertheless she took a paper spill from a sheaf on the mantelpiece and proceeded to light the lamp that hung from the ceiling in the middle of the room.

Related Characters: Elizabeth (speaker), John (speaker), Walter
Related Symbols: Light and Dark
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

"…It was chrysanthemums when I married him, and chrysanthemums when you were born, and the first time they ever brought him home drunk, he'd got brown chrysanthemums in his button-hole."

Related Characters: Elizabeth (speaker), Walter
Related Symbols: Chrysanthemums
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2 Quotes

If he was killed—would she be able to manage on the little pension and what she could earn?—she counted up rapidly. If he was hurt—they wouldn't take him to the hospital—how tiresome he would be to nurse!—but perhaps she'd be able to get him away from the drink and his hateful ways. She would—while he was ill. The tears offered to come to her eyes at the picture. But what sentimental luxury was this she was beginning?—She turned to consider the children. At any rate she was absolutely necessary for them. They were her business.

Related Characters: Elizabeth, Walter
Page Number: 86-87
Explanation and Analysis:

They never forgot it was death, and the touch of the man's dead body gave them strange emotions, different in each of the women; a great dread possessed them both, the mother felt the lie was given to her womb, she was denied; the wife felt the utter isolation of the human soul, the child within her was a weight apart from her.

Related Characters: Elizabeth, Walter, Walter's mother
Related Literary Devices:
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:

There were the children—but the children belonged to life. This dead man had nothing to do with them. He and she were only channels through which life had flowed to issue in the children. She was a mother—but how awful she knew it now to have been a wife. And he, dead now, how awful he must have felt it to be a husband.

Related Characters: Elizabeth, Walter, John, Annie
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis: