The Color of Emotion In the unfortunate short story of Odour of Chrysanthemums D.H. Lawrence points out the flaws in the marriages of multiple people, showing how certain people deal with the crutch in their own marriage. Lawrence exhibits how ineffective the two characters are as a couple and implies how little they communicate. The two main characters in this short story are unhappy and keep their sorrow in the ‘shadows’, pretending that everything is fine in order to be accepted by society. Odour of Chrysanthemums demonstrates that not all marriages bring happiness and couples tend to isolate themselves from one another in order to no face the reality of their fail marriage. An analysis of its characters and conflict will unveil what this story truly hides, that death makes some truths unbearable. Lawrence uses the color of Chrysanthemums to portray how Elizabeth must be feeling at the time. Many couples decided to live this unhappy life rather than be rejected and looked down upon by society. One of the major faults in their marriage was the amount of smothering that was being done to Walter. Walter wanted nothing more than to have fun once in a while with friends at the bar, but Elizabeth was having none of it. Her thoughts of him being “gone past home, to drink before [coming home], while his dinner spoiled and wasted” imply that Elizabeth is accustomed to or expects her husband to come home after work Walter obviously isn’t the only one unhappy with the relationship they share. She appears to be a victim of unhappiness when she describes herself as “a fool” for living with Walter in “[the] dirty hole [full] of rats and all” (802). After she hears from her husband’s mother that Walter had an accident, “her heart swings violently” and after seeing his body, she finally realizes that both of them were living an unhappy marriage that none of them try to give up and keep it in the shadows. The pair was evidently not good at communicating in the slightest. Walter saw no hope other than to kill himself due to the absence of that communication. After being introduced to the Rigley’s we can infer that Mr. Rigley is in a much worse place than Walter himself. Mr. Rigley has 12 children and a wife who loves to gossip to deal with. It seems as though the Rigley’s have come to a compromise as to how Mr. Rigley should spend his free time after work, having the husband go and drink with friends after dinner opposed to before like Walter. Doing it this way leaves out the possibility of the food going bad and lets Mr. Rigley spend some quality time with his children and wife. Perhaps a compromise among the same lines as the Rigley’s would have resulted in a happier marriage.
The fact that he prefers to spend time drunk rather than at home with his family, demonstrates that going drinking is a way he tries to cope with his marriage, and his wife not approving doesn’t