Coping With Reality Essay, Research Paper
Man s Inability to Cope with Reality
Like many pieces of art, it is difficult to interpret and analyze short stories. The plot and theme in short stories are often undeveloped and not very detailed, therefore the true meaning of the story can easily go unnoticed by the reader. D.H. Lawrence s The Rocking Horse Winner and Willa Cather s Paul s Case are both short stories, which on the surface seem very one-dimensional yet through proper analysis acquire a deeper meaning. The Rocking Horse Winner is the story of a young boy Paul who rides his rocking horse in search of luck. Paul does this so that his mother would value him and to quiet the voices that are heard coming from the house. Cather s story Paul s Case is also a story that incorporates the characteristics of a quest. It too is a selfish expedition as Cather s Paul is in pursuit of a fantasy lifestyle, which is restricted by reality. Both stories leave the reader with a sense of incompleteness. It is not until one analyzes the plot and the predominant theme similar in both stories that one can actually derive any meaning from them. Through these stories both Lawrence and Cather express a message about how people s inability to live realistically can result in tragedy.
The plot in both stories has many differences and similarities as the stories evolve, but the outcome of both is reasonably similar. At first glance, The Rocking Horse Winner is a dreadful tale about a selfish mother and her son who tries desperately to make his mother content by giving his mother what she wants, not what she needs. On the surface it appear as if the son, Paul, rides his rocking horse for his mother, but the when looking into the story one is able to realize that the Paul is just as narcissistic as his mother. He became wild eyed and strange, as if something were going to explode in him. (Lawrence, 376) Paul s narcissism leads him to his own death as he becomes contrived and paranormal. Like The Rocking Horse Winner, Paul s Case also ends with a tragedy. Many times in this story one is led to believe that the outcome of Cather s Paul will be of a positive nature as the story unfolds. Since this is a short story it is hard to fully understand the true meaning of what exactly has happened. Cather s Paul too became greedy. After realizing that he could not have all that he wanted as well as understanding that the world was not at all the way he thought it was, Paul chose to take his own life. Both Lawrence and Cather cunningly provide suspense and a mysterious outcome to not only narrate a story, but also to force the readers to actually look deeply into what is happening and be able to understand what exactly occurred.
Forced to look deeper into both stories one can find the common thread between them in the theme. The main theme in both stories is that of appearance vs. reality. In The Rocking Horse Winner, many aspects are truly not what they actually seem to be. Lawrence s Paul is confused about a lot of undertakings in his life. The first is the lack of understanding of what luck truly is. His mother tells him that one is lucky when they have money. Paul s perception of luck is entirely altered, as he believes his mother. His quest to find luck (money) begins with the riding of his rocking horse. This is his means to obtaining the name of the winning horse in the upcoming horse race. These horse names that he searches for come to him from an unexplainable source. They are the foundation of the supernatural. Considering the boys age and the confusing state of mind that he is in it is hard for him as well as the reader to understand what is real and what is not. Paul s inability to recognize the reality is the cause for his death. This point is considerably similar in the character of Cather s Paul in Paul s Case. Cather s Paul also has a problem with realizing what is real and what is not. This failure to distinguish reality and appearance is a lot clearer in this story than the other. The red carnation that Paul wears is a prime example of appearance since it is not properly significant for a boy like Paul. His lack of reality is strengthened as he was said to be accustomed to lying. He told many stories to his classmates just to have an audience. These stories were of course just his fantasies. He had not a hundred dollars left; and he knew now, more than eve, money was everything, the wall that stood between all he loathed and all he wanted. (Cather, 161) At this point of the story Paul is able to differentiate between reality and appearance, as now he understands the cruelty of life. This theme of appearance vs. reality provides the reader with a lesson learned which states that living in appearance will have a final tragic outcome, this was certainly the case with Lawrence s Paul and Cather s Paul.
Once one analyzes the stories and looks past their surface it is easy to find the true theme and lesson within them. This theme of appearance vs. reality is unquestionably evident in both Lawrence s and Cather s stories. The reader needs to look past the exterior, past the print on the page. Once one appreciates the progression of the plot and develops an understanding for the theme, then the true essence of the story is revealed. It is easy to live a fantasy life. However, once the awareness of reality is identified ones ability or inability to cope with the truth will greatly influence their end result.