In D. H. Lawrence's "Last Lesson of the Afternoon," the bored teacher likens his life metaphorically to "embers" of a fire that is slowly burning out. And he insists that he will not allow himself to become a simple ash heap from burning himself out while attempting to accomplish the impossible. If sleep will rake the embers clear, he will, instead, save his energy for more worthwhile activities that will actually enhance his life, instead of draining it of vitality. The speaker implies that as a teacher, he is obligated to assume responsibly with all his strength, but by doing so, he wastes himself on a futile mission. Thus, he makes a vow to himself to cease this purposeless activity. Nothing he does can influence these poor souls, so why, he asks himself, should he continue to do it? Why torture himself as he tortures the undeliverable?