This forms the tragic conclusion of H.E.Bates’s short story The Ox. As the main character of the story, Mrs. Thurlow, returned from her brother’s place, after her sons’ sharp refusal to live with her, she was completely overwhelmed with a deep sense of dejection and exasperation. The storyteller sharply brings this out here.
Mrs. Thurlow’s optimistic vision of a new future was completely crushed with her sons’ straight assertion that they would not go back with her. That was a matter of profound shock and grief of the ungrudging, ever drudging mother who had done so much for her children. She had to come back all alone, slowly dragging her bicycle and heavily trudging through a rough, muddy way. A total gloom cast her down and she seemed to have no spirit or stamina to move on. Even her old, trustworthy bicycle appeared to have become all dull and still. The back tyre continued to leak out its air and Mrs. Thurlow could hear the hissing sound of the leaking air all the while. The wheels of her bicycle, as a result, became almost static, as if they would turn no more.
The expression is highly suggestive in a symbolic sense. After her last painful shock from her cold sons, Mrs, Thurlow lost all her interest and enthusiasm and could find no sustenance to work and live again. The wheels of her ever persisting companion, her bicycle, also seemed to have no force to move up anymore. Mrs. Thurlow’s gloom and utter exasperation seemed to have touched her bicycle. There was a kind of affinity between the much-anguished living drudge and the inanimate old bicycle, taken as the symbol of her fortitude, security, and comfort.