"The Rocking-Horse Winner" by D. H. Lawrence was first published in 1926. The setting for the story is just after World War I in
England. The narration is from third person omniscient point of view. the story has the qualities of a fable and a fairy tale. There are subtle supernatural elements that serve to further the action of the story.
Luck and money are at the heart of the story. The main character or protagonist is Paul, a young, sensitive, trusting boy who very much wants to earn his mother's love by acquiring money. Something tells Paul that the family and most particularly his mother needed financial gain.
'Why are we, Mother?'[poor]
'Well--I suppose,' she said slowly and bitterly, 'it's because your father has no luck.'
'Is luck money, Mother?' he asked, rather timidly.
'No Paul. Not quite. It's what causes you to have money!'
To the mother, money meant status, appearances, class. All of these elements were more important than love.
The young boy becomes obsessed with acquiring the money his mother wants or needs. His rocking-horse becomes the tangible symbol of his quest to earn the money. He seeks a great prize, luck, that will enable him to win money wagering on horses. His winnings will free his mother from a great monster-- indebtedness-- that consumes all of her attention. Once free, she will be able to turn her attention to Paul and give him the greatest prize of all: love.
Successfully bonding with Bassett, the stable hand, Paul earns more and more money. Paul seems to have an uncanny gift of knowing who will win at horse racing. Eventually, through his winnings, he proposes to anonymously give his mother 1,000 pounds every year for five years. Greed consumes his mother who decides that she wants the entire amount now. Paul consents.
As Paul becomes more and more frenzied about winning, his body begins to wear down. When that happens, he appears no longer able to predict the winner. Finally, his mother sees Paul riding his horse like a madman and realizes that her son is feverish and gravely ill.
On his death bed, Paul predicts the winner. A bet is placed and Paul's choice wins profiting his mother a great deal of money Before he dies, Paul regains consciousness to tell his mother:
'I never told you, mother, that if I can ride my horse, and get there, then I'm absolutely sure--oh, absolutely! Mother, did I ever tell you? I am lucky!'
'No, you never did,' said the mother.
Now, Paul's mother understands that her son gave everything to please her. She does love him, but it is too late. The poor boy did go out of this life a lucky winner.