Why must Paul die in the end of the "Rocking-Horse Winner"?

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The answer to this question is subjective; that means each reader could answer this question differently. Personally, I don't think that Paul must die at the end of this story. He could run away. His mother could have a realization of what her greed is doing to her son, and...

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The answer to this question is subjective; that means each reader could answer this question differently. Personally, I don't think that Paul must die at the end of this story. He could run away. His mother could have a realization of what her greed is doing to her son, and she could adopt a completely new outlook on life. The family then could have lived happily ever after. That's probably a happier ending, and some readers might call it "better" because it wouldn't end on such a sad note. As an educator of teenage readers, I actually really like the fact that Paul dies. It's sad, and it comes as a shock to my students. They simply aren't used to reading things that have such depressing endings. My students get angry about the ending, and then they get vocal. This is why I like the fact that Paul dies. Readers become emotionally charged after the ending to this story, and they really see the consequences of the mother's deeply seated greed and materialism. Students also see the consequences of Paul's unceasing love for his mother. I think that Paul has to die in this story in order for the author to really drive home some of the thematic points.

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I would also like to add that Paul is a sacrificial lamb in many ways.  In order to break this vicious cycle of greed and dissatisfaction, something dramatic needed to happen to give the characters a wake-up call as to what is really important in life.  The death of an innocent, young boy is shocking enough to institute change; if he had lived, the characters in the story would have surely continued in a static, self-destructive state embedded in greed and materialism.

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