Sons and Lovers

by

D. H. Lawrence

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Baxter Dawes is the husband of Clara Dawes and Paul Morel’s rival when Paul becomes Clara’s lover. Baxter and Clara are separated (she left him because he cheated on her) and Baxter is self-destructive and miserable in the wake of her departure, despite the fact that he now lives with his mistress. Paul and Baxter hate each other even before Paul goes out with Clara. Baxter is a manual laborer and Paul finds him rude and “common” and looks down on and despises him. Baxter, in turn, hates Paul for being snobbish and above himself. At the same time, Paul feels drawn towards Baxter and Baxter is reminiscent of Mr. Morel and mirrors the emotionally distant father figure in Paul’s life. Paul and Baxter’s rivalry reaches a crisis when Baxter attacks Paul one night and the pair have a brawl. After this, however, the two become friends when Paul visits Baxter in hospital, where he is sick and depressed. Baxter is a physical and proud man, but his pride and confidence are shattered by his failed relationship with Clara. He feels sorry for himself and regrets what has happened. After he recovers from his illness, he realizes that he does not want to die and is humbled by the experience. This experience also matures him, and he grows more responsible and emotionally communicative and is able to reconcile with Clara, with Paul’s help, at the novel’s close.
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Baxter Dawes Character Timeline in Sons and Lovers

The timeline below shows where the character Baxter Dawes appears in Sons and Lovers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
Women’s Work and Women’s Rights Theme Icon
...manner. Paul knows something of Clara because she used to work at Jordan’s. Her husband, Baxter Dawes, also works there, but he and Clara are separated, and Paul knows that she... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Paul dislikes Baxter Dawes. He met him on his first day at Jordan’s and found him coarse and... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
Women’s Work and Women’s Rights Theme Icon
...goes to see Miriam next, he asks her about Clara. He wonders why Clara married Baxter Dawes if she was only going to leave him, but Miriam replies sarcastically. Paul suggests... (full context)
Chapter 10
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
...snobbish and is concerned that he still hankers after Clara, who is still married to Baxter Dawes. (full context)
Women’s Work and Women’s Rights Theme Icon
...by saying that women made men and Clara seems sad and pensive. Paul asks if Baxter Dawes was “unnatural” and, although Clara is taken aback by this reference to her ex-husband,... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
Women’s Work and Women’s Rights Theme Icon
...a gate and look out across some fields, Clara tells Paul about her marriage to Baxter Dawes. She married him young, she says, and never really cared about him. She says... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
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Paul feels slightly lost during this conversation and asks Clara if she ever let Baxter get close to her or if she really gave their marriage a chance. Clara seems... (full context)
Chapter 12
Women’s Work and Women’s Rights Theme Icon
...kisses Clara’s face. They continue through the woods and Paul asks Clara why she hated Baxter Dawes. She does not reply but leans over and kisses him. (full context)
Women’s Work and Women’s Rights Theme Icon
...understand the position women are in. Another day, Miriam asks Paul about Clara’s situation with Baxter Dawes and Paul tells her that he thinks Clara treated Dawes badly. He thinks that... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
Paul is certain, though, that Clara and Baxter Dawes had “real passion.” Miriam asks if it was like his mother and father and... (full context)
Chapter 13
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
...out with Clara, Paul goes to the “Punch Bowl” for a drink and runs into Baxter Dawes, Clara’s husband. Paul is talking about the possibility of war in Europe with his... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
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Paul goes back to his conversation and Baxter makes a spiteful comment about him getting his knowledge from the theatre. Paul tries to... (full context)
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 Nature and Industrialism Theme Icon
...to get on well, but Clara is upset when she hears about his feud with Baxter. (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Women’s Work and Women’s Rights Theme Icon
Paul suggests that Baxter could have been a good man. Clara thinks that Paul blames her for the way... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
A few days later, at work, Paul bumps into Baxter on the stairs. Paul apologizes and goes on with his work, but Baxter lingers in... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Women’s Work and Women’s Rights Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
Baxter shakes Mr. Jordan off and the manager falls and bruises himself. He fires Baxter immediately... (full context)
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Pressed by him, Clara admits that she does not want to divorce Baxter because she feels like he “belongs to her.” Paul says that Clara treated Baxter badly... (full context)
Women’s Work and Women’s Rights Theme Icon
...moved from the town), they pass a man on the road who reminds Paul of Baxter. Paul makes a joke to Clara as the man passes. Paul wonders who the man... (full context)
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 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
Paul is taken aback, but Clara continues and says that, although Baxter would not let her know him, she feels that Paul knows nothing about her. She... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
...Paul leaves Clara’s and has to rush to catch his train, he is ambushed by Baxter, who waits for him in the dark by a stile which is on the way... (full context)
Chapter 14
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
While Paul is in Sheffield with Mrs. Morel, he hears that Baxter Dawes is in a hospital nearby. The doctor tells him that Baxter has no visitors... (full context)
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
Baxter is sulky when Paul arrives, but he gradually softens up as the pair discuss Mrs.... (full context)
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Paul rarely sees Clara now and the next time he does, he tells her about Baxter. Clara is frightened when she hears that Baxter is ill and condemns herself for not... (full context)
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 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
Although Paul and Baxter are still rivals, Paul goes to visit him often and feels a close connection with... (full context)
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Back in Nottingham, Paul goes to see Baxter and tells him about his trip away with Clara. Baxter says that Paul may “do... (full context)
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Women’s Work and Women’s Rights Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
 Nature and Industrialism Theme Icon
Baxter Dawes, meanwhile, has recovered in a hospital in Skegness. Paul goes out to visit him... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
Paul admits that he feels more lost than Baxter. Baxter assures Paul that he will be alright, and the two men awkwardly discuss Clara.... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
...He takes a bitter kind of pleasure in this. He goes to the station with Baxter to meet Clara from the train. She is rather aloof with the two men and... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Women’s Work and Women’s Rights Theme Icon
...and small about him. She finds him unmanly and thinks that he lacks conviction, unlike Baxter who can at least commit to something. She feels that Paul is fickle and unstable,... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
...does not fear death and feels that Clara cannot support him. He can see that Baxter does fear death and, although he has been careless with his life, he admits now... (full context)
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Paul leaves Clara and Baxter after dinner and goes to catch his train. When he has gone, Clara pours Baxter... (full context)