The Rocking-Horse Winner Questions and Answers
by D. H. Lawrence

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Does the mother change in D. H. Lawrence's "The Rocking-Horse Winner"?

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The mother in D. H. Lawrence's "The Rocking-Horse Winner" changes twice throughout the story. The first time, she changes for the worse since she grows more wildly obsessed with money than ever before. The second time, she starts changing for the better as she begins feeling, for the first time in her life, motherly concern for her first-born child, Paul.

We see her change the first time after Paul arranges through the family lawyer for her to have a gift of 1,000 pounds for her birthday for the next 5 years. Paul was expecting his mother to feel ecstatically happy and relieved when she read the letter about the money; instead, she only grows more greedy, as we see when her face and voice become hardened when Paul asks if she received anything nice in the mail for her birthday:

"Quite moderately nice," she said, her voice cold and hard and absent.

She soon arranges with the lawyer to be given all 5,000 pounds at once. After she does this, Paul begins hearing the house screaming for more money, which reflects his mother's new uncontrollable desires for money:

And yet the voices in the house, behind the sprays of mimosa and almond-blossom, and from under the piles of iridescent cushions, simply trilled and screamed in a sort of ecstasy: "There must be more money! Oh-h-h; there must be more money. Oh, now, now-w! Now-w-w—there must be more money!—more than ever! More than ever!"

Whereas before Paul's mother was only obsessed with money and constantly worried, now she has an insatiable addiction for more and more money.

The more Paul's mother grows wild over money, the more Paul grows frenzied over successfully winning money. He becomes so obsessed about winning money that he begins making mistakes and losing money, which gives him a "wild-eyed and strange" look. His mother begins noticing his odd behavior and feeling worried. Whereas at the start of the story she only saw her children as a burden she bears, her new feelings of concern for Paul show she is beginning to change a second time. She grows so worried about him that she leaves a party toward the end of the story to find him madly riding on his rocking-horse. Soon afterward, he dies, leaving her with feelings of regret.

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