In "The Rocking-Horse Winner" what role does the father play in the story?

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

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The father is a curiously absent figure in this story. He is only mentioned once, at the beginning of the tale, where the narrator gives us information regarding Paul's family background and the want that characterises his upbringing because of the way that his parents are unable to make their income meet their expected standard of living. Note how the family is described:

Although they lived in style, they felt always an anxiety in the house.  There was never enough money. The mother had a small income, and the father had a small income, but not nearly enough for the social position which they had to keep up. The father went in to town to some office. But though he had good prospects, these prospects never materialized. There was always the grinding sense of the shortage of money, though the style was always kept up.

The father, then, although he is a very minor character who never really appears in the story, is identified as suffering from the same problem as Paul's mother in constantly desiring more money and therefore contributing to the terrible echoing voices that haunt Paul and his sisters so greviously. The vague way in which the father's work is referred to, as being in "some office," suggests the almost non-existent role he plays in the story. The real action concerns Paul and his mother.


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