In "The Rocking Horse Winner" what does the symbolism of the eyes mean?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Paul’s eyes are always described as blazing, blue, intense or uncanny.  His eyes represent his dreams, his passion and the futility of his attempts to get luck for his mother.

Eyes are the windows to truth.  It is clear to the reader from the beginning that Hester is not a good mother, and she does not really love her son.

Everybody else said of her: "She is such a good mother. She adores her children."  Only she herself, and her children themselves, knew it was not so.  They read it in each other's eyes.

The truth about Hester is in her eyes.  When Paul tries to find luck, after his mother tells him that his father is not lucky, the focus is also on his eyes.

 He wanted luck, he wanted it, he wanted it.  When the two girls were playing dolls in the nursery, he would sit on his big rocking-horse, charging madly into space, with a frenzy that made the little girls peer at him uneasily.  Wildly the horse careered, the waving dark hair of the boy tossed, his eyes had a strange glare in them. 

The boy tries to find something real in the rocking horse after his trance-like state.  He stares at the horse, and notices that “its big eye was wide and glassy-bright.”

The boy’s eyes are the focus when it comes to him.  His eyes are “big, hot, blue eyes, set rather close together” and they have an intensity that demonstrates himself when he is on his futile, feverish attempts to get luck on the horse.  When he wins at the horse races, his eyes are blazing but “curiously serene” at the same time.

When Paul dies, his eyes “turned actually into a stone,” representing the end of his dreams.

Read the study guide:
The Rocking-Horse Winner

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