Odour of Chrysanthemums
D. H. Lawrence's short stories portray complex, flawed interior lives, showing individuals facing momentous emotional events. In this story of fragile happiness and failed dreams, a tragedy forces a woman to acknowledge that she has never known her husband.
A Nottinghamshire coal miner's wife, a young mother, waits for her abusive husband Walter to come home. She blames his drinking for his absence. It turns out he has been killed in a pit accident. Laying out his corpse, after it is brought home from the mine, makes her realize they never really knew each other. Upon the discovery that her husband has died, the protagonist, Elizabeth, is able to remain calm and collected, especially in front of her children. In contrast, Walter's mother, who lives near the young couple and their children, becomes hysterical, highlighting her overbearing irritating nature.
A terrible dread gripped her all the while: that he could be so heavy and utterly inert, unresponsive, apart.The horror of the distance between them was almost too much for her—it was so infinite a gap she must look across.At last it was finished.They covered him with a sheet and left him lying, with his face bound.And she fastened the door of the little parlour, lest the children should see what was lying there.Then, with peace sunk heavy on her heart, she went about making tidy the kitchen.She knew she submitted to life, which was her immediate master.But from death, her ultimate master, she winced with fear and shame.
"No other writer with his imaginative standing has in our time written books that are so open to life." —Alfred Kazin
“Lawrence had that quality of genius which sucks out of ordinary experience essences strange or unknown to men.” —Anaïs Nin