Evaluate Paul's relationship with his mother in "The Rocking-Horse Winner." What drives their relationship? How are they similar? How are they different?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Composed later in the life of D. H. Lawrence, "The Rocking-Horse Winner" has elements of fable in it in order to convey what one critic terms Lawrence's revulsion at "London's staleness, its walking dead, it mechanized ugliness." As it certainly reads like a fairy tale in the beginning, Lawrence describes Hester, Paul's mother as a beautiful woman who has

...no luck. She married for love, and the love turned to dust. She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them. They looked at her coldly, as if they were finding fault with her....They read it [the hard place in her heart] in each other's eyes.

With the house seemingly haunted by the phrase, "There must be more money!" that "came whispering from the springs of the still-swaying rocking-house,Paul embarks upon a quest  for money to provide his mother in order to make her love him. His search is for the clue to "luck" because, according to what he mother tells him, "luck" is what aids people in always having money.

Paul becomes like his mother in that he believes in the power of "luck." Always talking to the gardener about horse-racing, Paul sits on the rocking-horse, tilting back and forth in a frenzy until the name of a winner comes to him. 

 But he differs from her in that he does not spend his winnings, but instead doubles them on winnings after the next horse race. Hester, on the other hand, just spends whatever she is given, and constantly wants more and is never satisfied.  "She so wanted to be first in something." And, tragically, although Paul finds luck by betting on the horses, his mother never displays any love toward Paul while he demonstrates his by paying the bills and dies from his heroic efforts.

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The Rocking-Horse Winner

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