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In the story "The Rocking-Horse Winner" what, in depth, is the irony. I know it is...

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moushey | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 31, 2009 at 4:22 AM via web

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In the story "The Rocking-Horse Winner" what, in depth, is the irony. 

I know it is ironic that the boy's attempt to stop the whispers only increases them and it is ironic that the whispers increase at Christmas time but I do not know why. Please explain! Thank so much.  

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 31, 2009 at 3:50 PM (Answer #1)

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Situational irony results when the opposite of what we would reasonably expect to happen is what actually occurs. In this fantasy, the house whispers, "There must be more money!" This motif emphasizes the mother's greed and its effects on the family. When Paul wins bets on the horse races, the money his mother receives doesn't satisfy her. It makes her even greedier. This is the opposite of what Paul expected to happen. It is ironic that her greed increases at Christmas, since Christmas is supposed to be a time of spiritual celebration and giving out of love. Paul's mother wants money to buy expensive gifts for the children, not to show her love for them, but to impress others and maintain her social position--to keep up appearances.

There are numerous other ironies in the story, as well. It is terribly ironic that Paul, a little boy, assumes responsibility for his mother's well being and happiness; she should be taking care of him. Another irony is suggested at the story's conclusion. Only when it is too late and Paul is dying does his mother feel concern for him and pay attention to him. Also, Paul has a father in his home, but it is a male servant who plays the most important role in his young life. Finally, being a "winner" results in Paul's dying.

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