Themes and Meanings (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
This story is D. H. Lawrence’s strongest indictment of materialism and his strongest demonstration of the incompatibility of the love of money and the love of human beings. In Paul’s unhappy family, his parents’ marriage is unsatisfactory. His mother is sexually frustrated: “She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her.” Clearly, she feels not fulfilled, but violated.
However, she does not seek the cause of the failure of her marriage inside herself, but rather outside herself, claiming that she and her husband have no luck. In confiding her disappointment to her son, she seductively invites him to take the father’s place in her life by finding luck for her. This task he sets out to accomplish. Thus, the preadolescent boy, who should feel sufficiently secure in his mother’s love and in the stability of his family so that he can seek outside relationships and embark on his own sexual course, is arrested in his development. Stuck in an Oedipal bind with his mother, he regresses from adolescent sexuality into sexual infantilism. Instead of riding his own horse, symbol of male sexual power, he rides a rocking horse, an activity that, in its frenzy and isolation, suggests masturbation rather than fulfillment with a partner.
Throughout, Lawrence condemns the modern notion that luck and happiness come from the outside, rather than from within; that happiness must take the form of money and goods rather than of...
(The entire section is 487 words.)
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