in "The Rocking-Horse Winner," how do the Paul's actions reflect the actions of any child in a stressful situation beyond his control?D. H. Lawrence's "The Rocking-Horse Winner"

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Although D. H. Lawrence's story, "The Rocking-Horse Winner," reads much like a fairy tale, there is a perversion, rather than a reinforcement, of values as the obsession with money overrides the natural value of love:

Although they lived in style, they felt always an anxiety in the house.  There was never enough money....There was always the grinding sense of the shortage of money, though the style was always kept up.

Confronted with the demand in his home that "there must be more money,"  young Paul asks his mother about their situation.  When she tells him it is "because your father has no luck," Paul asks her "Is luck money, mother?" In response, she explains that luck is what causes people to have money, and she is unlucky.  Paul, then, "stoutly" replies that he has luck, without knowing why he has said this. But, in a typical childlike reaction, Paul feels that if he can be lucky, things will be better. 

So, unknowingly, Paul tries to please his mother; he thinks if he can be lucky, then he can "compel her attention," attention that she does not give him because she is incapable of loving.  Moreover, Paul feels that if he can be lucky and win money for his mother she will be happy, and then he will win her love.  And, so, Paul begins his "mad little journey" of riding his rocking-horse "in full tilt."  After winning horse races with the help of the gardener, Bassett, Paul indirectly gives his mother five thousand pounds.  This, he hopes, will silence the house, silence the demand for money and let his mother love him.  But, Paul's mother squanders the money and does not silence the house by paying off her debts.  Even when she works, Paul's mother is disastified because she does not get paid what she feels she is worth.  Money, not satisfaction in her art, is the only compensation for Paul's mother.

In his efforts to quiet the house and make his mother happy, Paul continues to try to make more money by finding the winners to bigger horse races such as the Derby. However, Paul later grows extremely tense from his great efforts, and becomes terribly nervous; nevertheless his mother goes out one night to a dance instead of staying by him.  When he falls ill, she feels her heart has "turned actually into a stone."  As he lies dying, Paul utters his desperate preoccupation to gain her love by repeating, "Mother, did I ever tell you?  I am lucky!"

"No, you never did," his mother says, ironically, because Paul has said these words to her much earlier.  That she does not remember indicates the futility of Paul's obsessed riding of the rocking-horse in order to silence the house and win enough money to win his mother's love.

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