Is "Teenage Wasteland" similar to "The Rocking-Horse Winner" when compared in relation to the two main characters?

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On the surface, it would seem that Donny and Paul have more differences than similarities. What connects them, however, are their mothers. Both women are unfulfilled and inadequate; both feel they’ve missed out on something or have not met expectations. In the Lawrence story, the need for money and a better lifestyle drives Paul to use his gift to pick horses; ultimately, in the attempt to fulfill his mother’s insatiable desire for more and more money, Paul in effect kills himself. Donny, on the other hand, also suffers from feelings of inadequacy. It’s not that he doesn’t love his parents; on the contrary, his behavior (it is suggested) stems from his sense that his mother’s affections have been transferred from him to his younger sister. Unlike Paul, Donny doesn’t have a “gift” to use to make himself more attractive to his mother; instead, he transfers his affection to Cal, an adult surrogate, but Cal doesn’t understand Donny’s real problem any more than his mother does, and Donny simply exploits Cal’s excuses for his own purposes. In the end, like Paul, Donny disappears from the story. Both boys are casualties of somehow not being enough to compensate for their mothers’ insecurities.

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Generally speaking, there is very little that the two main characters of these short stories have in common.  In many ways, Paul from "The Rockinghorse Winner" could almost be considered a hero in the way that he is concerned for his family's well being and sacrifices himself to help.  Donny, on the other hand, seems to do nothing sacrificial at all and generally appears to act out of self-interest alone.

The one quality, however, that these two protagonists have in common, is that they are misunderstood by the adults in their lives and probably under-appreciated.  Donny's disconnection to his parents and other adults drives him away, and ultimately leads him into rebellion, anger, and giving up.  Paul, on the other hand, tries to grow closer to his mother, and his unlikely role as a secret "providor" drives him mad and eventually to his death.  Both protagonists suffer a tragic ending for the lack of a personal connection they have with their parents.  The difference is that Paul clearly cares, but Donny, we assume, does not.

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