In The Rocking-Horse Winner, the family members harbor a number of secrets.  What are they? How do the secrets impact the story?

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Some critics understand the child’s obsession with the rocking horse—riding it frantically for a vision that will win money for his mother, and thereby win her love—in a Freudian way. If we follow this interpretation, we have the deepest secret of the story, only alluded to and never stated: the child’s...

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Some critics understand the child’s obsession with the rocking horse—riding it frantically for a vision that will win money for his mother, and thereby win her love—in a Freudian way. If we follow this interpretation, we have the deepest secret of the story, only alluded to and never stated: the child’s Oedipal desire for the mother, to take the place of the inadequate father by providing for her as he could not.  Riding the horse becomes symbolic of that desire, an act so intimate that it can only be expressed through symbol, not realistic detail.The “fault” in the woman that she must cover up, then, is allowing that “lack of love” to become a way for the child to do anything to acquire it, transforming a healthy mother-child love into something thwarted and perverse.  The child dies, of course, never finally acquiring his mother in the way he subconsciously wants; indeed, to “win” her would be too transgressive, even for as bold a writer as Lawrence.

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Bassett-- family gardener, treats Paul with a serious respect, helps Paul place bets on horses. Formerly worked around horses and racing.

Oscar Cresswell--Paul's uncle and Hester's brother, learns of Paul’s secret, uses him. Sets up fund to funnel money to Hester.

Hester--Paul's mother, incapable of loving others. She feels “her heart had gone, turned actually into a stone."  She is cold, unfeeling, wasteful, and shallow. When given money she begs for. Instead of paying her debts, she spends it on new things. There is no gratitude, depriving Paul of the joy of providing income for his family. Although at the end of the story Hester becomes increasingly concerned about Paul's deteriorating health, she still does not love him, even when he dies.

Paul--young boy tries desperately to find "luck," meaning money, for his mother. He rides his rocking horse furiously because when he does so, he somehow gets the name of the horse that will win the next race, winning a lot of money. For the Derby, he rides himself into a feverish delirium, but he is sure of the winner. His uncle places a large bet for him. Just as he wins a fortune, he dies from the fever, for the sake of making money for the family, particularly his mother.  He is so innocent in his enthusiasm for the game, he directly associates luck with money, so the gambling seems like a natural solution to the problem.

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Paul, the young protagonist's secret, of course, is that by riding the wooden rocking horse long enough and hard enough, he is somehow able to intuit the names of the real horses who win races.  As for the other family members, all of the "secrets" of  revolve around the fact that each of them uses Paul for their own gain and care nothing about the child himself.

Hester, Paul's mother, is happy that her son can provide more income for her to blow through.  She is one of the coldest characters in literature.  Her "secret," in my opinion, is her lack of humanity, which leads to her son's death. 

Oscar, Paul's uncle, uses Paul's "gift" as a game.  He is already well-to-do and the boy's ability is just a way to pass the time and accumulate profit from the tips Paul gives him.  Oscar pulls the family deeper and deeper into  the financial abyss. 

Paul father is absent, his mother explaining only that he has "no luck."

Bassett, the gardener, cares more for Paul than his family members, but he is not in a position to affect real change for the boy.  Still, he gets the whole thing started by convincing others of Paul's special ability.  Without Bassett's encouragement, the tragedy may not have occurred. 

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