Is there any mythical pattern in "The Rocking Horse Winner"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

According to Donald Junkins, in his "'The Rocking-Horse Winner': A Modern Myth," D.H. Lawrence's story is a re-creation in modern terms of the ancient myth of the man-devouring woman in language that is fable-like as it begins "There was a woman who was beautiful...." and young Paul desperately tries to become "lucky," as his father has failed to do, and provide his mother with the wealth which he hopes will lessen her anxieties. For, her preoccupation with money interferes with a harmonious relationship between husband and wife and mother and children. Paul's efforts place him in a role to which he is not really suited: He must be the gallant knight on his steed meant to be symbolic of virility, but is only a wooden rocking horse despite the series of chimerical events in which it becomes the agent of "luck" that provides the mother with money to pay her rising debts.

Because Paul is only a man-boy and she is his mother, Paul cannot satisfy Hester's insatiable needs. Therefore, his only way out as Hester continues to spend and the house is haunted by the phrase "There must be more money!" is his death. Uncle Oscar expresses this futility of Paul's quest when he says,

"...poor devil poor devil, he's best gone out of a life where he rides his rocking-horse to find a winner."

Paul's sacrifice of himself is heroic in a desperate sort of way. But, he does leave his mother "eighty-odd thousand to the good."

Paul himself seems mythical, super-human and other worldly when he rides his rocking-horse in a frenzy and arrives at a supra-human state in which he intuitively knows the winners of the horse races.

Read the study guide:
The Rocking-Horse Winner

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