, Research Paper
Rocking Horse Irony
“The Rocking-Horse Winner” by D.H. Lawrence is a story about a boy named Paul who lives with parents that lack love and are filled with greed. Tormented by a house that whispers to him, Paul dies trying to convince his mother that he is lucky by picking horse race winners while he rides a rocking horse.
Paul does not like that his house whispers “there must be more money.” He believes the whispering began because his parents seem to emphasize that there is never quite enough money. During a discussion with his uncle, he expresses his belief that the house will stop whispering when he becomes lucky. Instead of stopping, the whispering increases after Paul’s mother benefits from his winnings.
In the beginning, Paul’s mother, in effect, challenges him to prove that he is lucky. Paul’s search for luck is conducted behind the reins of a rocking-horse, “charging madly into space.” In his travels, Paul hears odd names which he shares with the gardener, Bassett. Bassett recognizes the names as winners in horse races, and begins to win bets based on Paul’s insight. Paul
arranges for some of his winnings to be given to his mother, under the condition that she not know from whence it came. He is afraid that if she knew, she would take away his luck. In a frenzied search for another winning horse, Paul falls off the rocking-horse, mortally injuring himself. Before he dies, he tells his mother “… I knew [which horse], didn’t I? Over 80,000 pounds! I call that lucky, don’t you, mother? … I’m lucky.”
The story portrays what it must have been like to be raised in a family struggling to maintain status. The parents are too busy to be bothered with the tedium of raising their own child. The ultimate irony is that Paul’s mother, who felt her children were “thrust upon her,” is told she is “eighty-odd thousand to the good and a poor devil of a son to the bad.” I think she felt she was better off the way things turned out.