The Rocking-Horse Winner Characters


Bassett is the family gardener who helps Paul place bets on horses. He used to work around horses and racing and he talks about racing all the time, so it seems reasonable that Paul would seek his advice. He takes the boy seriously and follows all the boy's instructions in placing the bets. He also keeps Paul's money safely hidden away, at least until Uncle Oscar gets involved. He is the only adult who treats Paul with a serious respect. It is Bassett's seriousness that convinces Uncle Oscar that Paul's gift for picking winners is real. He is trustworthy and kind, but is also a servant, so once Uncle Oscar takes over, he respectfully withdraws from the action.

Oscar Cresswell
Oscar Cresswell is Paul's uncle and Hester's brother. He is in a better financial position than Hester, since he owns his own car and a place in Hampshire. This is because he inherited the entire family fortune, leaving Hester to depend on her husband for support. It is Uncle Oscar who stumbles upon Paul's secret of earning money through gambling, but he does not at first believe in Paul's gift. He thinks that Paul is not serious and treats the boy as if he were merely playing a game. After Oscar realizes that Paul's tips are dependable, he encourages the gambling. Oscar arranges for a lawyer to funnel money to Hester. He also bets his own money, using Paul's tips for his own profit.

Although Uncle Oscar seems harmless at first, the reader becomes aware that he is using Paul for his own benefit. He makes no effort to teach Paul about being careful with money or the dangers of gambling. Oscar does nothing to help Hester and her family, neither by giving money nor by helping Hester budget what money she does have. Because Oscar only uses Paul for his own financial gain, he is revealed to be shallow and selfish.

Hester is Paul's mother, who is incapable of loving others. She is not only obsessed with money, but she is also irresponsible with the money she does get. When Paul arranges through his attorney to give her a thousand pounds a month from his winnings, she immediately begs the attorney for the entire amount. However, instead of paying her debts, she spends the money on new things for the house. This results in an even greater need for more money. She also does not express any thanks for this sudden windfall, depriving Paul of the joy of providing the much-needed income for his family.


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