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What are the plot, theme, characters and setting of "The Rocking Horse Winner"

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historywiz | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 26, 2010 at 5:39 AM via web

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What are the plot, theme, characters and setting of "The Rocking Horse Winner"

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted January 26, 2010 at 5:46 AM (Answer #1)

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The short story 'The Rocking-Horse Winner' by D. H. Lawrence has references to the themes of love, childhood, duty and luck - and they are all mixed up together. For example, the little boy in the story does not seem to get a lot of attention from his pre-occupied mother - she is often too busy worrying where the next dress or party invitation is going to come from. Yet the boy still feels inextricably drawn to her - whether this is real love is an issue raised by the short story. So he tries to help (in his need to be needed and his duty) by using luck - gambling on horses. it becomes an obsession and he too becomes preoccupied - so much so that he rides his toy rocking horse to distraction - almost into the floor - in a kind of mad frenzy. Perhaps the guilt/responsibilty he feels at too tender an age puts paid to his childhood too early.

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted January 26, 2010 at 6:08 AM (Answer #2)

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The short story "The Rocking Horse Winner" is about a young boy who grows up in a home where the mother had children but does not really love them.  She views her husband as a failure because he does earn much, and they ever have enough money.  Her son hears her talking about his father never having any luck and that the problem is that she had married an unlucky man.

The boy has a toy rocking horse that he gets on and rides with a vengeance.  He imagines himself on a race horse wining the race.  Each time he goes into a trance like state as he rides the horse.  The boy discovers through a family employee that he can make certain real race horses win by his actions.  His uncle learns about this and bets along with the boy.

The boy is able to bet and earn money to give to his family.  His parents do not know how to live within their means or save any money.  The more the boy brings in, the greater and more expensive their lifestyle becomes.  It becomes such a big problem that the walls of the house state, "There is not enough money.  We need more money."

The boy is eager to supply the parents with money and desires their love.  He wants to show his mother that he is lucky.  He gets on the horse and rides.  He rides harder and harder in order to win.  He wins the race and they will receive a large sum of money.  Their son dies from exhaustion.

The setting is a pleasant house with a Gardner and a few discreet servants.

Themes: The need for acceptance.  Greed. Spending beyond one's means.

Characters: Boy named Paul, mother, father, Uncle Oscar, Bassett, young gardener, and nurse.

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