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Is the rocking horse a symbol in "The Rocking-Horse Winner"?

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jjwright | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 26, 2011 at 12:47 PM via web

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Is the rocking horse a symbol in "The Rocking-Horse Winner"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 28, 2011 at 7:02 PM (Answer #1)

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I would definitely want to argue that it is. Throughout this excellent short story it is the rocking horse that gives Paul his supernatural ability to predict the next big winner, and, arguably, it is the rocking horse that takes his life as he rocks ever more frantically on the horse to gain this knowledge. Note how the mother views her son on his horse for the last time:

Then suddenly she switched on the light, and saw her son, in his green pajamas, madly surging on the rocking horse. The blaze of light suddenly lit him up, as he urged the wooden horse...

He screams out "in a powerful, strange voice" and his eyes "blaze" with the effect of the horse. It is clear that the horse does symbolise some sort of power external to Paul and his mother, yet we are never given a precise indication as to what. We can, however, come up with a list of various possibilities. We could say that the horse represents Paul's desire for his mother's love, an instrument of supernatural forces, temptation or greed. Any of these possibilities could be argued from the text.

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