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The Rocking Horse Winner

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D.H. Lawrence’s The Rocking-Horse Winner is a study in delusional behavior, spurred on by lack of love, lack of acceptance and the desire to gain both these characteristics that should be innately part of a family. In order to achieve the attention he craves, Paul uses his intuition to his demise when he convinces himself the key to gaining the love of his family is found in the luck of the draw. By riding his rocking horse into insanity, D.H. Lawrence illustrates through Paul ( a literary character) the negative affects of unfulfilled love from a parent.

The Rocking Horse Winner

The Characters of the Rocking Horse

Paul’s mother is cold and the father can be seen to be rather absent as they pursue what to their own family morals, as well as those of many societies, are values to be emulated—seeking material success.  Their son Paul takes the responsibility upon himself to “fix” the problems in his family by throwing himself into a relationship with the gardener, Bassett, a man his mother considers unworthy for he is of a lower social station.  The son, Paul, does this in order to place wagers on horse races, to bring money to raise money for his mother first, and the rest of the family, second.

Paul’s sense of obligation to strive for his mother’s happiness and love cause him to sacrifice his own mental health.  Paul is determined to be lucky, whatever that means.  Paul’s mother is unable to provide an adequate description, but leaves the boy with the suspicion that luck and money are connected.  The boy then becomes determined that somehow his rocking horse will take him where he needs to go.

“Now!” He would silently command the snorting steed.  “Now, take me to where there is luck! Now take me!”

Luck in the Rocking Horse

He knew the horse could take him to where there was luck, if only he forced it.  So he would mount again and start on his furious ride, hoping at last to get there.  He knew he could get there .

Magically, he rides the rocking horse until the name of a winning horse comes to him (but not all the time).  He can sense the desperate need for money in the house, marked by the obvious way in which his parents live far beyond their means.  When he wants to help his mother by giving her a thousand pounds a year over the course of five years, his gift only exacerbates the situation.  The mother wants all the money at once, and then spends it frivolously rather than paying off debts.  This drives Paul into the fever that will kill him.  It is supremely ironic that his mother is left with £80,000 but no son.  Paul obviously loves his mother so much that he wants to better her situation, despite the fact that this woman has nothing but coldness in her heart for her children.

In the tragic ending of the short story, the son dies trying to win the security and happiness, and by so doing, the love, of his mother.  Before his death, however, the son suffers even more tragically through the development of many secrets– to the toy-horse, which he rides to the point of exhaustion; entry into a world of delusion.

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