The Rocking-Horse Winner Questions and Answers
by D. H. Lawrence

The Rocking-Horse Winner book cover
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What are two examples of symbolism that represents greed and its destructive consequences in "The Rocking-Horse Winner"?

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In D.H. Lawrence’s The Rocking-Horse Winner, the symbols of the rocking horse and the whispering are two important symbols that represent greed in the story.  In his short story, Lawrence develops themes such as greed and materialism in society.  For example, Paul is a child who is taking on the financial responsibilities of an adult.  In retrospect, Paul’s mother should have been caring for her family’s financial well being instead of wasting money on trivial things.  Because of her greed, she allows her child to take on this adult role.  When Paul rides on his rocking-horse, he is able to magically know the winners of the upcoming horse races.  His mother then allows her young child to gamble in order to gain more money. It is also important to note that Paul becomes exhausted and weak after his riding, but this does not stop his mother’s encouragement of the act.  Paul, the innocent young child, only wants to be loved and accepted by his mother.  Unfortunately, this never really happens.  She remains indifferent toward her child throughout the story.

In addition, the whispering in the house is another symbol that helps to develop the theme of greed.  There are constant whispers in the house saying that “there must be more money!”.  This constant voice emphasises the mother’s passion and drive for more money.  These voices are also what drive Paul to keep trying to earn money in order to gain his mother’s love and acceptance.  Regardless of Paul’s efforts, at the end, he literally “rides himself” to death.  What’s even more tragic is that his mother, even after his death, remains indifferent. 

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