The Rocking Horse Winner Theme

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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There are several recurring themes that emerge in D. H. Lawrence's short story, "The Rocking-Horse Winner." One is the Oedipus Complex that arises between Paul and his mother. Paul's strong desire to appease his mother leads to him financially usurping his father as the money-provider of the household. His wild riding of the rocking horse conjures vivid sexual imagery. Another theme is that of greed. Paul's mother shows little attention to her son or husband, concentrating only on money and finding ways to spend it. The more money Paul makes from his gambling winnings, the more his mother desires. In the end, her son's illness and death seem to be secondary to her love of money. A third theme is family responsibility. Paul's parents are always short of money; his father works regularly, but his income is not enough for the house--and especially for his wife's desires. Paul, the young son, eventually becomes the primary breadwinner, yet his efforts seem to go unnoticed by the father, and his mother--rather than showing love and appreciation--only wants more money.

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Two of the major themes of the story are pitted against each other in "The Rocking Horse Winner". The first theme is obsession with money. This is shown especially in the character of Hester, Paul's mother, who never thinks she has enough money. Her obsession is pitted against the theme of the responsiblity of parenthood. Hester tends to ignore her children and focus on the material wealth that she thinks she should have. This results in her son Paul trying to make up for his father's lack of material success in order to make his mother happy. Of course, the results are tragic because even though Paul is able to provide his mother with some wealth, it costs him his life and his mother is still not satisfied.