Second Best

The Mole as a Three Part Metaphor in Second Best

In "Second Best", D.H. Lawrence uses the symbol of the mole as the basis for three separate metaphors for dilemmas in the lives of his characters. Each character shows differences in attitude and action towards the creatures, and these differences represent the psychological disparities between them that result in their difficulties in understanding and interacting with one another. Thus, the story shows us how the deeper roots of problems in our literal interactions can show themselves in the symbolic worlds we inhabit.

In the case of Anne's character, her awkward attempt at capturing a mole symbolizes her difficulty with men at a point in her life when she is making an unsteady leap into womanhood. Adolescence has left her struggling with uncertainty as to whether she should view men as pests or objects of desire. Her changing attitudes towards the mole mirror her fluctuating view of men. She oscillates between a novel fascination with the mole that first leads her to cradle it, frustration at its desire to escape, anger at the "pesky" creature once it bites her, and finally, tragic attraction to its "beautiful skin" once she has killed it. These developments parallel the past, present and future of her relationship with Tom,...

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