What are D.H. Lawrence's "The Rocking-Horse Winner " comments on parenting?I'm doing a research paper on the parenting and i need to develop a thesis statement.

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't have a very high opinion of the parents in "The Rocking-Horse Winner."  Both of them are pretty selfish, petty, and cold.  We hear more about the mother; not very much is mentioned of the father.  All we know is that

"The father, who was always very handsome and expensive in his tastes, seemed as if he never would be able to do anything worth doing,"

and, as the mother bitterly puts to her son Paul, "He hasn't any luck."  She has the bad taste to talk very badly about their father in front of the children, and that distaste for him can only be catching.  The mother herself is selfish and cold.  Lawrence states bluntly of her lack of affection for her children,

"yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them."

Even later when Paul makes his mother all of that money, in order to earn the love that she doesn't feel for him, she does not appreciate it or use it wisely.  She squanders it, and still shows no love for her son.  At the end of the story we see her display anxiety over Paul's strange behavior, but still no love.  After his death, there is no display of emotion, and she had no idea that her own son had been betting on horses.  Even the gardner knew that for pete's sake.

So, both parents are overly materialistic, to the detriment of their family.  Their shallowness and greed come before everything, including their children, which drives their children away from them, and to do dangerous things to win their affection. They are unaware of the activities of their kids, and try to buy their affection with toys.  All of these things make them pretty lousy parents.

For a thesis, try going with something from the above paragraph, and tying it to Lawrence's themes of greed and vanity.  It could go as follows:  "The parenting of the adults in the story reflects the harm that greed can have upon the human spirit."  Then you could use examples of how the parents are all of the above (what I mentioned in the above parent), and how that reflected greed, and led to the destruction of Paul.  I hope that those thoughts helped a bit; good luck!

mkcapen1 | Student


D.H. Lawerence's "The Rocking Horse Winner" is a sad story about a boy whose parents constantly live above their financial means.  The boy’s mother puts the boy's father down by telling the boy that the man is unlucky because he does not have money.  The parents repeat their worries about money so much that the boy begins to hear it coming through the house.  The boy retreats to a world of his own by riding a toy rocking horse faster and faster.  He begins to think that if he can ride it fast enough he can become a winner.  He enters bets on horses with a family worker.  The boy’s uncle finds out about the bets and uses the boy to try and make more money.  The boy is pleased that he has money to share with his parents from his winnings.  He gives the money to his parents.  They spend it right away, but they do put the children in private school which appears to be the only good thing done for them other than gifts and material things given to them.  In the beginning of the story it is explained that the mother does not feel real love for her children so she pretends as well as she can that she is a loving mother. 

"when her children were present, she always felt the centre of her heart go hard."

She wears a façade that leads others to believe she is a good and doting parent. 

"She adores her children."  Only she herself, and her children themselves, knew it was not so.  They read it in each other's eyes."

The boys father does not work consistently enough to provide for the family in the way that his expensive tastes require.  The boy eventually rides himself to death in hopes that he will win enough money for his parents.  His parents have had little regard for their son but they will be happy to spend the wealth he will leave them, but it is anticipated that it to shall soon be gone.  Their only concern is what others thik of them and to keep up a high lifestyle.  Their children are just another part of the appearance.

Several thesis statements could be:

 The boy in “The Rocking Horse Winner” is driven to win because of his fear of failure.

The boy’s death in “The Rocking Horse Winner’ is caused by his parents greed inability to manage money.

Read the study guide:
The Rocking-Horse Winner

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