In the short story, "The Rocking Horse Winner", by D.H. Lawrence, comment on the use of genre.In its word choice, simple style, direct characterization and its use of the wish-motif this story has...

In the short story, "The Rocking Horse Winner", by D.H. Lawrence, comment on the use of genre.

In its word choice, simple style, direct characterization and its use of the wish-motif this story has qualities of a fairy tale. Its differences, however- in chracterization, setting and ending - are especially significant. What do they tell us about the purpose of the story?

Asked on by stella01

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In response to your insightful question you need to think of how Lawrence is using the genre of a fairy tale, but then goes on to subvert it and challenge it to drive home his message. Firstly, the characters in fairly tales are normally very "flat" characters - that is they are undeveloped and are not explored psychologically in any way. This is certainly not true of the mother, who is described in great detail, especially her lack of love for her children and her greed:

She had bonny children, yest she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them.

There was always the grinding sense of the shortage of money, though the style was always kept up.

Likewise we are told a lot about Paul and how he processes the voices that echo round the house, equating money with luck, and we can understand why Paul sets on his self-destructive course - to gain his mother's affection in a way that he is unable to do normally.

The other major difference of course is the ending. There is no "happy ending" that we are given in this tale. Instead, it is a tragedy, allowing Lawrence to reinforce his central message. As the mother is left with the dire consequences of her greed, we recognise the evils of materialism and how it can literally rip apart relations and families. Remember the irony of the words of her brother at the end of the story:

"My God, Hester, you're eighty-odd thousand to the good, and a poor devil of a son to the bad. But, poor devil, poor devil, he's best gone out of a life where he rides his rocking horse to find a winner."

Note how this message is underlined - greed can sometimes lead to death. But, the uncle comments, his nephew is better off out of a world where he is driven to such lengths to gain his mother's love.

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