In "The Rocking-Horse Winner" by D.H. Lawrence, what does Paul keep hearing the house whisper?

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The author D. H. Lawrence takes the position that children can see and hear things that are no longer visible or audible to adults after they reach a certain age and become immersed in worldly problems. What Paul and his two sisters keep imagining they are hearing is the whole...

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The author D. H. Lawrence takes the position that children can see and hear things that are no longer visible or audible to adults after they reach a certain age and become immersed in worldly problems. What Paul and his two sisters keep imagining they are hearing is the whole house expressing a need for more money, which is really only being felt by their mother.

And so the house came to be haunted by the unspoken phrase: There must be more money! There must be more money! The children could hear it all the time though nobody said it aloud. They heard it at Christmas, when the expensive and splendid toys filled the nursery. Behind the shining modern rocking-horse, behind the smart doll's house, a voice would start whispering: "There must be more money! There must be more money!"

Paul takes the childish course of riding his rocking-horse in the hope that it will take him to "where the luck is," because his mother has told him they are short on money and the things money can buy because they are unlucky. Either through a streak of luck or through the influence of some benign or wicked supernatural power, Paul discovers he can predict the winning horses in important upcoming horse races. With the gardener Bassett, who makes the bets, he accumulates a big sum of money. With his uncle's help, Paul manages to give his mother an anonymous gift of five thousand pounds, hoping this will satisfy her. It doesn't; the money only whets her appetite for more.

The voices in the house suddenly went mad, like a chorus of frogs on a spring evening. There were certain new furnishings, and Paul had a tutor. He was really going to Eton, his father's school, in the following autumn. There were flowers in the winter, and a blossoming of the luxury Paul's mother had been used to. 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!"

The voices are no longer whispering. They are trilling and screaming. This is the problem with money: there is never quite enough. Paul is now in a situation where he feels he must keep riding his rocking horse harder and harder in order to work himself into a state of consciousness in which he hears, or sees, the name of the winning horse in the next big race. His mother may sense what he is doing, but she seems, on one level, to be intentionally sacrificing her son for the money he can earn for her. The narrator explains early in the story that she does not really love her children.

Nevertheless, when her children were present, she always felt the centre of her heart go hard. This troubled her, and in her manner she was all the more gentle and anxious for her children, as if she loved them very much. Only she herself knew that at the centre of her heart was a hard little place that could not feel love, no, not for anybody. 

No matter how hard Paul rides his rocking horse, he can never reach the goal he really wants. He can never win his mother's love. He kills himself trying to do it. 

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