The Rocking-Horse Winner by D. H. Lawrence

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What is the central and most important irony in "The Rocking-Horse Winner"?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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It is ironic indeed that Hester appears to have everything she could ever want in life yet still remains deeply unsatisfied with her lot. No matter how much money Paul wins for her, it's never enough. As the old saying goes you never know what you have until you lose it. And thanks to Hester's insatiable greed and desire for social status she loses what should be the most precious thing in the world to her: her son.

For it's only because of Hester's deep and unaccountable dissatisfaction with life that Paul ends up dying so tragically young. In a classic goose/golden egg scenario, Hester has...

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  1. In “The Rocking Horse Winner,” the theme of the story is that greed and materialism can never be satisfied and destroy true happiness and peace. Throughout the entire story, the mother wants more and more money; the more she gets, the more she needs. As per her teachings, Paul equates love with luck and money; he strives throughout the story, and essentially sacrifices his life, to get money. Despite trying to stop the whispers, “there must be more money,” Paul himself becomes greedier and almost addicted to gambling and bidding on the horses. It only wears him down and kills him in the end.  Greed demands everything and gives only misery in return. It appears than trying to satisfy the mother's hunger for money only gives makes her thirstier for it - she is consumed by her desire for more money, and however much she has it is never enough. The words of her brother at the end of the story, “he’s best gone out of a life where he rides his rocking horse to find a winner,” clearly state the dangers of this materialism while he also implies Paul’s release form his agony. The mother has gained a big sum of money but has lost her son in the process. Thus she clearly shows the dangers and consequences of unbridled greed.
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