The Rainbow: Chapter 13 - Summary and Analysis

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The Man’s World


      Quarrels between Mother and Daughter. Ursula's school days were now over, she lived at home and helped with the household chores, but the disorder of the domestic life and the unruliness of the younger children angered and distressed her. She began to hate her mother and her mother’s way of life and decided that she must escape from her home. There were battles. Ursula would fight for things that mattered to her. She would have the children less rude and tyrannical, she would have a place in the house. "But her mother pulled her down. With all the cunning instinct of a breeding animal. Mrs. Brangwen ridiculed and held cheap Ursula's passions her ideas—her pronunciations.”

      William Brangwen. Brangwen himself was in state of flux. He was a man of ceaseless activity. Blindly, like a male, he pushed his way out of the earth that covered him. Thus, he made his way towards individual expression and individual form. He had now a new strength in his sense of reality. Now he wanted again to carve things that were utterances of himself. All the time his only connection with the outer world was through his evening classes, because in his creative work he was oblivious of all earthly concerns and ties. Ursula took up a job. Ursula tried to find comfort in her memories of Skrebensky, from whom she receives a letter every now and then, but such empty memories failed to comfort her soul. She wanted to take part in some purposive activity, to become independent, to live her own life, and then escape the home environment which she hated. Thus, Ursula decided to take up the job of a school mistress. The job offered her fifty pounds which was enough for her to live on independently. Her father was opposed to the idea. He and his wife had four hundred a year and this was sufficient. He wanted his daughters to become ladies so he did not relish the idea of their taking up jobs. However, Ursula remained firm and despite parental opposition secured a job in a school in Kinghston-on-Thames. Then there was again a quarrel with the parents, who did not like that their daughter should go all alone to such a distance, to the other end of London. Her father procured her a place at Brinsley Street School nearer her home. It was small, narrow, dirty, with a flock of noisy and unruly urchins. But she had her dreams of improving the lot of the children by her love and solicitude and transforming the place altogether.

      Frustrating Expeience at School. Ursula was soon disillusioned with the Brinksley as she knew that she could not realize her dreams here. She found the entire atmosphere so hard, impersonal and mechanical. The fifty-five children of Standard five which was given to her, seemed all hostile to her. They were all willing to jeer at her any time and she was stunned and mortified. The headmaster, Mr. Harby was a short, sturdy man, who was fond of using power.

      Slowly, the class became worse and worse. Their books were dirty, their composition poor, their conduct rude, unmannerly and indisciplined. Mr. Harby insidiously turned the class against her. He punished them and made them feel that they were punished because of the weakness of their teacher. Then she felt the invincible iron closing upon her. Her heart was black and tangled in her teaching, her personal self was set in prison; she was subjugated to a bad destructive will and her will was tense against them all the while. But she could not deny that the school was haunting her; crushing her soul and metamorphosing her into a teacher. She went on blindly and doggedly. She must learn to subdue her class at will, it was her duty, since the school was such. The class was unruly but she decided to appeal to the headmaster no more, but when she was driven wild, she seized her cane and slapped the boy who was insolent to her. And at length they were afraid of her, she had them in order. But she had paid a great price out of her own soul, to do this. It seemed as if a great flame had gone through her and burnt her sensitive tissue. "She who shrank from the thought of physical suffering in any form, had been forced to fight and beat with a cane and rouse all her instincts to hurt. And afterward she had been forced to endure the sound of their blubbering and desolation, when she had broken them to order." Sometimes she felt that she would go mad and then she realized that the boys were to blame for compelling her to be cruel against her better feeling and judgment Her only ray of hope was that she was going to college in eighteen months' time. Then she would take a degree and escape this torture of being an elementary school teacher. With the registration of her seat in college she began to study the subjects she had offered for her degree by attending evening classes. She worked with intensity; The passionate desire to take her place in the world still burnt in her heart and it drove her on.

      Maggie Schofield Maggie Schofield, a teacher of standard three was a source of consolation for her. Miss Schofield was about twenty years old, a subdued girl, who held aloof from the other teachers. She was rather beautiful, meditative and seemed to live in another, lovelier world. Ursula went to all kinds of places, to big suffrage meetings in Nottingham, to concerts, to theatres, to exhibitions of pictures with Maggie. Ursula saved her money and bought a bicycle, and the two girls rode to Lincoln, to Southwell and into Derbyshire. They had an endless wealth of things to talk about.


      This chapter trace Ursula’s coming to maturity. We are given a peep into her tortured soul, she is wretched and miserable as a result of her struggle for adjustment in the man’s world of work and activity. In this chapter, Lawrence also expresses all his own grievances about teaching and about education. He appears to have little faith in the possibility of liberalizing education, which in those days was conducted in a rigid and cruel disciplinarian fashion. So Ursula is unable to succeed in her idealistic attitude towards teaching, success coming to her only when she is prepared to bully and dominate.

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