, Research Paper
D. H. Lawrence’s “The Rocking-Horse Winner” is a short story that widely uses
many techniques in which elaborate on the importance of many topics discussed. The character foils, which add to Paul’s character, give a sense of the boy’s growing need to gamble and become lucky. The whispering house is a main symbol in the plot that leads to the outcome of the story and the main force that drives the young boy to find a winner. Also widely used terms are imagery and irony. Many details are given throughout the story, giving the reader a real sense of being there, watching young Paul ride his horse. Many ironic situations arise throughout the story, such as the title; was Paul really a
winner? Paul, feeling unloved and unwanted, tried to please his mother by being lucky. Love stirs the deep emotional balance and when lacked, brings about ostentatious, and at times irrational behavior to be noticed. Lawrence uses these terms and many more to lure the reader in and attach them to the pages until the last one.
By using foil characters to sharpen Paul’s character, Lawrence introduces many of the drivers of Paul’s addiction like his mother and his Uncle Oscar. Paul’s mother, Hester, resented her children and made Paul want his obsession to become lucky. When his mother thought about her children, children that infringed on her life, “the centre of her heart would go cold” (299) and she faced a resentment that was vast. She felt that her children made her unattractive and that she wallowed in faults: “they were finding faults with her . she must cover up some fault in herself”(299). His mother was so unhappy, she was unable to love neither her children nor herself,” ‘could no feel love, no, not for anybody”(299). Her unhappiness made her son strive
to see a smile upon her face. She made Paul feel sorry for her for being a lucky woman who happened to marry an unlucky man and thus became unlucky herself. Aside from Paul’s mother, his Uncle Oscar added to his problem. While riding his wooden rocking-horse, Uncle Oscar told Paul to ” ‘ Don’t stop until you get there”‘ (301). Seeing that Paul’s predictions were accurate, Uncle Oscar was determined to win more money and “determined to take his nephew with him to the Lincoln Races” (307). Uncle Oscar tells his nephew that his winning money may stop the unbearable whispering from the house, thus urging the need Paul had for gambling. Comments to Paul from both his mother and uncle fed the addiction to find the winner and be lucky.
By using great amounts of symbolism, “The Rocking-Horse Winner” has more
meaning and a greater impact on the reader. The house and the death of Paul force the reader to analyze the relationship between the written word and the underlying meaning. The repetitiveness of ” ‘There must be more money”‘ (299), whispered by the House, expresses the great want for money and the greed incurred by the mother. To the mother, luck is something that will cause one to have money and money is the key to happiness: ” ‘ if you’re lucky, then you’ll always get more money’” (300). Living without money, it was hard for the family to keep up the “social position” they were accustomed to. A platinum example of symbolism used throughout Lawrence’s “The Rocking-Horse Winner” is the death of young Paul. Leaving his mother a vast amount of money, his mother is told that she was “eight thousand to the good, and a poor son of a devil to the bad (308). Now, his mother must deal with the fact that her son died
and left her that money, but if he were lucky, would he have died? Hester needs to reevaluate what luck really is. His death captures the essence of the carefree youth that has takes on an adult worry; he wants his mother to know that he is lucky.
Like character foils and symbolism, irony is another widely used term to express the impression left by the author. Paul tells his mother that he is lucky and that God told him: ” ‘I’m a lucky person God told me”‘ (300). After he falls and Paul learns of his outstanding win, he asks his mother if he had ever told her how lucky he was and she replied, ” ‘No, you never did,’” (308). Another ironic situation in this classic short story
is the house never stops whispering. When Paul allots his mother with a yearly
allowance of one thousand dollars, much to his surprise, the house does not
stop whispering. ” ‘Oh-h-h; there must be more money. Oh, now, now-w!’” (306) was heard Instead of the expected silence. A veil of greed shrouded each item in that house, screaming the need for money. The title, “The Rocking-Horse Winner” has an ironic undertone as well as many things throughout this story. Yes, Paul may have been a winner, in the sense that he won races, but did he or anyone else for that fact win? Was winning the races with names like Malabar and Daffodil just luck? Among the numerous literary terms used, character foils, symbolism and irony play an important role on the impression that D. H. Lawrence wants the reader to achieve. The widespread use of character enhancement by the use of foils, symbolism and the use of irony, give a rich meaning to the tone of the story. This sad fictional work affects the reader in many ways, but Lawrence’s use of these terms help the reader better
imagine what is going on and have a deeper meaning of the theme.