Vivo sempre: Lawrence, Jung and The Natcha-Kee-Tarawas in The Lost Girl.

Citation metadata

Author: John Horrocks
Date: Fall 2016
From: D.H. Lawrence Review(Vol. 41, Issue 2)
Publisher: D.H. Lawrence Review
Document Type: Critical essay
Length: 8,808 words

Document controls

Main content

Article Preview :

The dramatic performances of the Natcha-Kee-Tarawas in The Lost Girl seem an odd intrusion into the story, "those exasperatingly foolish Natcha- Kee-Tarawas," as Richard Aldington described them (9). (1) The arrival of this troupe in the mining town of Woodhouse is credible enough; Wild West shows were common at this time in England as well as the United States. (2) The Natcha-Kee-Tarawas' act is also not out of place among other items at James Houghton's Pleasure Palace, the humorous films such as "The Pancake," the turns provided by Miss Poppy Traherne's skirt dances and the Baxter Brothers' gymnastics. What is different about the Red Indian act is the seriousness with which Lawrence presents it. The satirical treatment of Miss Poppy, who reaches an artistic ecstasy as she swirls her petticoats into the shape of a teacup, is far from the studied attempt at meaningfulness in the description of the Natcha-Kee-Tarawas' performances. The latter are significant, but exactly why is by no means clear.

The arrival of the Natcha-Kee-Tarawas provides the opportunity for Alvina Houghton to break away from the restricted life she leads in Woodhouse. The troupe includes Ciccio, the Italian with whom she eventually travels to Italy. As Lawrence himself pointed out in a letter to Compton Mackenzie, in doing so, "my Alvina, in whom the questing soul is lodged, moves toward reunion with the dark half of humanity" (3L 522). Alvina joins those many figures in Lawrence's writing for whom there is an awakening to a darker, more passionate side of existence, among them Ursula Brangwen in The Rainbow, Mabel in The Fox, and Connie in Lady Chatterley's Lover. The transformative role of Alvina's encounter with Ciccio and the troupe is beyond doubt.

What remains perplexing is the meaning of the Natcha-Kee-Tarawas' act, the White Prisoner scene. It is hard to believe that this would ever have entertained an audience, even the colliers and factory girls in the depressed town of Lumley, which the impresario Mr May thinks is "a damn god-forsaken hell of a hole" (LG 87). The attention given to the performance by Lawrence indicates that it is meant to be powerfully symbolic, not just an entertaining piece of theatre. Something of Ciccio's central part in it is foreshadowed by his dominant role in the Red Indian troupe's procession through Woodhouse. Made up in war-paint and naked to the waist, he swings his spear so that he actually touches Alvina and her father. He appears "extraordinarily velvety and alive on horseback" (LG 138). In Lawrence's writing the rider on the horse, the man sure in his command of the animal grasped between his knees, appears again and again as a sign of an unbroken contact with a deeper instinctual life. Ciccio is like the groom Phoenix in St Mawr, who seems to be all of a piece with the animal he rides, by contrast with the ineffectual Rico, who is thrown and kicked by the horse. "As a symbol," Lawrence says in Apocalypse, "he [the horse]...

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A610762937