Constance feels as if she had always hated Clifford, and she realizes he has been eating her life away. She realizes that society is insane, Michaelis is insane, and Clifford is insane, and that "money and so-called love are its [society's] two great manias" (97). She notes that Clifford is shifting his grip to Mrs. Bolton, who was subservient to him. Mrs. Bolton had initially thought that there was something different about Clifford, as he was supposed to be a real gentleman. But gradually she discovered that he was a "baby grown to man's proportions" (99). Mrs. Bolton also used to learn a typewriter so that Clifford could dictate to her his writing.
Constance thinks that Mrs. Bolton is in some way in love with Clifford. She would often tell him about the Tevershall village gossip. Clifford finds it very useful for his writing, as material. Constance realizes that his "genius" was just about being talented at gossip (101). Constance herself listens curiously sometimes to Mrs. Bolton, while also feeling ashamed.
We are given a snippet of the kind of gossip Mrs. Bolton tells to Clifford. She talks about a woman named Tattie Allsop who had married a man 12 years older just a week earlier. She then begins to talk about how women in the pits are jealous of other women for their clothing -- it is money, as opposed education, that matters to these women now. Morality too is unimportant to people. Similarly she finds that young men in their society are selfish, and that many burdens fall upon the older generations. Clifford questions her about the popularity of socialism amongst the working classes, and she responds that the only ones interested in such ideas are women who are in debt. She declares that the people haven't the brains or the seriousness to be socialists. Constance thinks to herself how similar the lower classes are to all the rest, consisting of just "money boys" and "money girls" (105).
Mrs. Bolton talks more about how the Tevershall pits will soon be depleted, and how many workers are moving to Stacks Gate and Whiteover. However she notes also that one day, machines may replace men. She observes that the more machines there are, the more people are needed to work them. She compares a dead colliery to death itself.
Clifford is re-vitalized by Mrs. Bolton's talk. He begins to think about how he has previously catered to those seeking pleasure in his work. However, he realizes that there is a whole another way to achieve success. He sees that one can try to get the approval of those who work. His new "bitch-goddess" of Success (107) is those men who made money by industry, who gave real substance to the world. He wants now to attain success through industrial production. He begins to read up on mines, and devises a new method for obtaining fuel from coal. He notes that the men in this industry have the mental age of 13. Nevertheless when he goes to the mines he feels a sense of power. He is fulfilled by this industry, whereas his writing/art had not fulfilled him. He retains though a secret fear of Constance, because he knows he owes everything to her.
Constance is reacting to a modern time period that is characterized by a certain aimlessness of its people. She sees that people have wills and are very driven, but that which they are driven towards is very empty. While Lawrence is not specific as to what they could aspire to, we could assume that what is missing is real values, inherent relations to the world and a sense of purpose as to what one can do in society. We can speculate that this is a symptom of a secular world. Where there is no god, and no sense of transcendental purpose, people are aimlessly given to society.
Society makes them want things like clothing, as Mrs. Bolton's commentary tells us. They are not interested in ideas or social change. They simply want material goods, money, and some people aspire to the "bitch-goddess" Success. Notably the fact that the narrator calls it a bitch-goddess tells us there is a negative judgment of such an ideal. Why is it called a bitch-goddess? What does it mean to be successful in modern society? There is a hint here that success consists of merely keeping the mechanical, lifeless forces of the world running, without a sense of purposiveness. So Clifford feels like he contributes to society when he creates a more efficient method for using fuel. But what does he want to use such fuel for? While new inventions and technologies are useful for our lives, Lawrence is making the commentary that our lives must have a sense of value for true happiness.
Mrs. Bolton represents the lower classes, and it is significant that the narrator gives a direct transcription of her words on the page. She speaks somewhat in dialect, and her thought patterns are chaotic, metonymic. One might say that her use of words reflects the critique of society that Lawrence is giving here: she is merely using them for the sake of expression, without a real sense of why she needs to express what she does.
This leads us to question what Lawrence's relationship to language is. Undoubtedly the reader has noticed that Lawrence has a style of his own in this novel. For example, he refers to sex as that "sex thing" (7) when he describes how the young Constance Reid used it in her previous relationship. Lawrence is pointing to the dead, uselessness of many of the words we are used to using. His own project is to wrestle with that language, show it as defunct in conventional uses and to make the reader question his or her common associations with that language. Yet, at the same time, language is his only medium for expressing his ideas.