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

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In "The Rocking-Horse Winner," why is Bassett motivated to acquire money?

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In relation to "The Rocking-Horse Winner," the word "motivated" in the context of acquiring money suggests being incited or impelled (i.e., driven) to acquire money. Bassett, however, does not have an impelling drive to acquire money. His motivation for acquiring money by being a betting partner with Paul is a life-long interest in horses, horse racing and horse betting coupled with a normal, rational desire to get ahead financially in the world. This normal, rational desire to get ahead is demonstrated by the care he takes in safe-guarding Paul's money and the graciousness with which he steps aside when Oscar Cresswell (Uncle Oscar) becomes involved. So if "motivated" is used to mean only the reason Bassett acquires money, the reason is a normal and rational desire to accumulate wealth for the purpose of getting ahead in life and living comfortably without worry. On the other hand, it is Uncle Oscar who is "motivated to acquire money" in the sense discussed above, which means being incited or impelled to acquire it, which implies a sense of frenzy and greed, qualities Uncle Oscar's actions and manipulations bear out as being applicable to him and true.

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