What's the plot of "The Rocking-Horse Winner"?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Young Paul is concerned about his family's lack of money, and he even hears the voice of the house whispering to him--"There must be more money!" His mother tells him that they have no money because Paul's father is unlucky. Paul, however, has been told by God that he IS lucky. He determines to change the family's financial misfortunes by picking winners of horse races. How does he do it? He simulates each race by mounting and riding his childhood wooden rocking horse, on which he envisions the eventual winners.

Paul's accuracy is amazing, and he soon presents a gift of a thousand pounds to his mother. Instead of being happy, however, she is "cold and indifferent." Paul eventually gives her his entire winnings--five thousand pounds--but this only upsets the voices of the house, which Paul now hears as a "mad" roar of screams. Hearing voices and obsessed with picking the winner of the upcoming Derby, Paul's anxiety becomes overwhelming. When his parents attend a party but leave him at home, they return to find Paul maniacally riding his rocking horse, urging it on to the imaginary finish line. Before falling to the floor unconscious, Paul cries out, "It's Malabar!" The parents fail to recognize the name, but Paul's Uncle Oscar does: It is a horse running in the upcoming derby. Uncle Oscar places the bets, Malabar wins, and just before his death, Paul is told that the horse has won the family a fortune--80,000 pounds.

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The Rocking-Horse Winner

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