Sons and Lovers

The Sacrifice of Arabella: Symbolism and Self-Actualization in D.H. Lawrence 12th Grade

In D. H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, the nature of Paul is epitomized in one particular scene in which he sacrifices Annie’s doll after accidentally breaking it. Lawrence reveals a central idea here about Paul that not only parallels the character of Walter, but also foreshadows Paul’s eventual treatment of Myriam as well as his mother. Ultimately, Paul’s inability to accept things that are broken, particularly those that he breaks himself, exposes the reason that he is unable to contribute to society as a functional and healthy human being.

After breaking the doll Arabella, it seems as though Paul is upset for hurting his sister, who cries upon realizing what Paul has accidentally done. Yet, after a short time, she moves on the way young children normally do. What’s odd is that Paul is still upset—for him, the doll remains a reminder of the distress he caused his sister. Paul’s inability to get over his breaking of the doll can be seen when Lawrence writes, “So long as Annie wept for the doll he sat helpless with misery. Her grief wore itself out. She forgave her brother—he was so much upset” (66). Rather than let it go, Paul does not find peace of mind until he physically destroys the doll by sacrificially burning it....

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