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Rocking Horse Winner Analysis

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  • Pages: 5
  • Word count: 1209
  • Category: Horse

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We as humans are competitive beings. Whether it is outwardly expressed, or not, the desire to be smarter, better looking, stronger, more successful, higher in status than the next person naturally lies within us. In D. H. Lawrence’s “The Rocking-Horse Winner”, Hester, a wife and mother of three children, turns that innate desire into an obsession. The author, throughout this story, uses literary techniques to communicate that money shouldn’t come before family and it can’t buy happiness. Hester is a materialistic woman with an emotionally tired marriage causing her to resent her children, she feels “as if they had been thrust upon her”. She had two girls and a boy, Paul. Her family is trying to keep up with a high class and high status lifestyle on a middle class income. From the outside, the family was picture perfect with a loving mother, well-behaved children, a nurse and gardener to tend their luxurious home, but with two mediocre incomes, they struggled to keep up with this image. This financial strain was felt by the children as they saw in their mother’s eyes that something wasn’t right. They also picked up on their mother’s tension and felt unloved and unimportant.

To emphasize the gravity of the tension due to the pressure and high priority of having nice things, the author personifies the house by having it whisper “There must be more money”. To further emphasize, the author adds that even the stuffed animals and a rocking horse heard the whisper and expressed their understanding in their eyes. This whisper will soon consume Paul and become his obsession to silence it. One day, Paul, who can put at age 12 or 13 based on context clues of the time period, had a conversation with his mother about what the meaning of luck was. “It is what causes you to have money. If you’re lucky you have money….if you’re lucky you will always get more money”, she explains. She tells him that his father is very unlucky and since she is married to him she is unlucky as well. Paul tries to tell her that he is lucky and she doesn’t believe him. This conversation motivates Paul to prove to her that he is, indeed, lucky. Paul hops on the back of his rocking-horse and starts riding at high speed to be taken to where the luck is.

His mom, sisters, and the nurse wish he wouldn’t ride the horse for different reasons. He scared his sisters as well as annoyed them, the nurse was concerned he was going to break the toy and his mom says he is too big, but Uncle Oscar took an interest in what his nephew was doing and asked what the horse was named. Uncle Oscar, was warmed by the boy’s interest in the races and found out by Bassett, the gardener that Paul sometimes had a special, unfailing sort of hunch about which horse was going to win. After winning a significant race, Paul gave his mother, through a lawyer, 1,000 pounds a year every year for the next 5 years for her birthday hoping for the house to stop whispering “there must be more money”. His mother retrieved all 5,000 pounds and Paul noticed the lush furniture additions and his enrollment in a prestigious school. But, it wasn’t enough, Paul wasn’t paid any more attention or shown any more love and the house did not stop whispering. Actually, the voices in the house became mad and intense (pg320).

The more money available, the more greedy she became. After loosing a few races and the stress and haunting of the house’s mantra growing more apparent, Paul was more determined than ever to know which horse would win the derby. He goes on one last ride on his rocking horse. This ride was faster, more intense, and wilder than ever knowing he would not stop until he knew the winner. To Paul, it was a life or death situation to find out. He finds out, shouts out the winner before falling off the horse into unconsciousness. His predictions were right, he bet all he was worth and made 80,000 pounds, the equivalent of millions of dollars today. He could finally prove to his mother that he was, indeed, lucky and that he told her so, but she denied him ever telling her that. Paul died from a brain fever that night. To understand all of the characters in the story, the author uses third-point omniscient point of view. This point of view allowed the reader to see from the outside looking in with no bias. Communication between the characters was done verbally, but a lot of times non-verbally as the author makes several references to the eyes of the characters.

From the beginning of the story, it is said that from the outside looking in, Hester was a great mother that “adored her children”, but her eyes told otherwise. They were cold, greedy and empty eyes, but over her son’s death bed, her eyes were glittering(pg 324). The author made the most references to Paul’s eyes to communicate a meaning and set a mood. Paul’s eyes have been flared, hot, close together, blue fire, blazing, mad, uncanny but ultimately lifeless blue stones. The major symbol in the story was the rocking-horse which symbolized a real horse in a race in attempt to win more money to make Hester happy so that Paul could feel loved when finances aren’t an issue. This story illustrates that money doesn’t buy love or happiness. A child invested his existence towards betting on horses to win money for his mother to make her happy. Five thousand pounds wasn’t even enough to satisfy her and make her happy, even for a short while until it ran out did Paul find any love or attention from his mother.

He did not stop trying though, it was the sole purpose to his life. The lack of a mother’s love, support and nurturing can be extremely detrimental to a child. The moral of the story is money is not more important than family. Material possessions need to come second to the physical and mental well being of your own child. Although it was a tragedy that Paul passed when he was finally able to satisfy his mother, this dramatic ending was justified by Uncle Oscar when he says to his sister, “you’re eighty-odd thousand to the good and a poor devil of a son to the bad…but he’s best gone out of a life where he rides his rocking-horse to find a winner.” The ending of the story was abrupt but the moral of the story was clearly established. A boy’s life was consumed by trying to satisfy his mother and silence the phrase that haunted his life. Ultimately, no matter how much money Paul were to win for her, it would never be enough. In the end, a mother became so obsessed with material possessions, social status, and money that she neglected her 13-year old son’s emotional needs when he then turned to gambling and odd behaviors and died in the name of his mother and making her happy and proving to her that he was lucky.

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