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In "The Rocking Horse Winner," the writer describes Paul's eyes. What do they tell us...

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snowangle | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 3, 2009 at 10:19 AM via web

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In "The Rocking Horse Winner," the writer describes Paul's eyes. What do they tell us about Paul?

 

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 3, 2009 at 2:00 PM (Answer #1)

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The first description is "The boy watched her with unsure eyes" which indicates that he is thoughtful, ponderous.  Most of the descriptions are:  "His eyes had a strange glare", "big blue eyes blazing with a sort of madness", "His eyes blazed", "a blue glare...his blue eyes still flaring", "big, hot, blue eyes", "his eyes were blue fire...with eyes blazing"  All descriptions related to him on his horse, thinking or talking about winning money, or being at the races reflect a hot, burning obsession that is taking over him.  Blaze, glare, flare, fire:  strong words, consuming, and destructive, perhaps foreshadowing the unpleasant result of his quest. 

When his uncle or mom suggests he stop, the descriptions change:  "uncanny blue eyes" (creepy or unique) and "The boy watched him with big blue eyes, that had an uncanny cold fire in them".  The fire changes to cold-frightening, but a fire nonetheless.  Eventually, he was "wild-eyed and strange," adding even more of an element of being out of control.  Before he dies, there is a change:  "his eyes were like blue stones".  All fire, passion, and life is gone; he is left as cold and empty as a stone.  His obession has burned the life out of him.  The eyes are a very efficient way to relay information about the inner mindset of a character, and Lawrence does the well, tracking the tragedy of Paul.

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ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted January 3, 2009 at 2:16 PM (Answer #2)

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In D.H. Lawrence's "A Rocking Horse Winner," Paul's eyes are mentioned specifically ten separate times.

“The boy watched her with unsure eyes; His eyes had a strange glare in them; The boy gazed at his uncle from those big, hot, blue eyes, set rather close together; The child had never been to a race-meeting before, and his eyes were blue fire; The child, flushed and with eyes blazing, was curiously serene; The boy watched him with big blue eyes, that had an uncanny cold fire in them, and he said never a word. He became wild-eyed and strange, as if something were going to explode in him. He was very frail, and his eyes were really uncanny; His eyes blazed at her for one strange and senseless second, as he ceased urging his wooden rocking-horse; He neither slept nor regained consciousness, and his eyes were like blue stones.”

The description of Paul's eyes progress from innocence to madness.  The author uses adjectives like unsure, glaring, fiery, wild-eyed, and blue stones. These adjectives go from a pure innocence of unsure eyes, to his obsessed wild-eyed, and finally before death the eyes like blue stones. The affect on the reader is one of suspense and emotional attachment to Paul.  Lawrence wrote this way to draw the reader into Paul's emotions.  Most people show all of their true feelings in their eyes.  This was a perfect characteristic for us to see Paul's travel toward death.

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