Introduction to The Rocking-Horse Winner

“The Rocking-Horse Winner” is a short story by D.H. Lawrence. It was originally published in 1926 in Harper’s Bazaar, and it is one of Lawrence’s most popular and frequently anthologized works. The attitudes it adopts towards its characters and towards society at large are indicative of those held by many of Lawrence’s contemporaries. People began to grow disillusioned with the social veneer of politeness, and they instead sought to explore the underlying motivations for why people did the things they did.

At the heart of “The Rocking-Horse Winner” is the conflict between materialism and genuine love. Paul, a young boy able to predict the outcomes of horse races by sitting on his rocking-horse, is a generous and kind child. He only wants to make his mother, Hester, happy. However, Hester is obsessed with material wealth, and constantly laments her apparently poor luck. Even after Paul conspires to give her five-thousand pounds of his winnings, she only becomes more materialistic, which highlights the fact that money cannot truly buy happiness. Instead, happiness must come from within, and true love and genuine affection must prevail over the desire for personal gain.

A Brief Biography of D. H. Lawrence

D. H. Lawrence (1885–1930) was a major English writer of the early twentieth century. A prolific author of essays, plays, poems, short stories, and novels, Lawrence focused throughout much of his work on the physical and emotional relationships between men and women, subjects which drew Lawrence into considerable controversy. His novels Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1929) and Sons and Lovers (1913) were censored or outright banned because of their sexual content, and some of his manuscripts were even seized by British authorities for perceived indecency. Despite his initially shaky reception, Lawrence is now recognized by many critics as a masterly writer who would not shy away from depicting the deep complexity of human interactions.

Frequently Asked Questions about The Rocking-Horse Winner

The Rocking-Horse Winner

Malabar is the name of the horse that Paul believes will win—and the horse that does win—the Derby. After learning from his mother, Hester, that being lucky is the very best thing a person can be...

Latest answer posted December 16, 2020, 11:14 am (UTC)

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The Rocking-Horse Winner

Paul fixates on the idea of proving himself to be lucky because his mother, Hester, has told him that "lucky" is the very best thing a person can be. When Paul asks why the family has no car, his...

Latest answer posted December 16, 2020, 11:35 am (UTC)

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The Rocking-Horse Winner

The short story "The Rocking-Horse Winner" was written in July of 1926 by D. H. Lawrence, an English author. It was originally published in the magazine Harper's Bazaar, and then later, it appeared...

Latest answer posted December 16, 2020, 11:26 am (UTC)

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The Rocking-Horse Winner

In "The Rocking-Horse Winner," Paul reveals to his uncle Oscar that he has gone into partnership with Bassett, the gardener. He first went to Bassett for information about horse racing, and now...

Latest answer posted December 15, 2020, 12:20 pm (UTC)

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The Rocking-Horse Winner

In "The Rocking-Horse Winner," Paul appears to drive himself to exhaustion and death by riding his rocking horse to satisfy a ceaseless pressure in his household for more money. The very walls of...

Latest answer posted December 15, 2020, 11:18 am (UTC)

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The Rocking-Horse Winner

In the first paragraph of the story, we learn that the beautiful mother had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them. This suggests that the mother...

Latest answer posted December 15, 2020, 11:36 am (UTC)

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The Rocking-Horse Winner

In the story, Uncle Oscar is surprised when he finds Paul riding a rocking horse during one of his visits. He's even more surprised when one of Paul's sisters reveals that Paul regularly talks...

Latest answer posted December 15, 2020, 1:25 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Rocking-Horse Winner

In D. H. Lawrence's short story "The Rocking-Horse Winner," the gardener, Bassett, keeps Paul's winnings safely stored for him. Paul keeps twenty pounds "in reserve." However, Paul eventually also...

Latest answer posted December 15, 2020, 11:25 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Rocking-Horse Winner

In "The Rocking-Horse Winner," Paul's mother, Hester, candidly tells her son that she married an unlucky husband. In turn, this has meant that his bad luck has rubbed off onto his wife. Once upon a...

Latest answer posted December 15, 2020, 11:27 am (UTC)

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The Rocking-Horse Winner

"The Rocking Horse Winner" is written in third-person omniscient point of view, which allows the reader to become intimately aware of both the mother's sense of frustration with her economic...

Latest answer posted December 14, 2020, 11:48 am (UTC)

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The Rocking-Horse Winner

In "The Rocking-Horse Winner," the children hear the silent whispers of the house, which repeats, There must be more money! There must be more money! Ironically, as the narrator shows, this...

Latest answer posted December 14, 2020, 11:38 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Rocking-Horse Winner

In short, Paul avoids telling the secret of his rocking horse because he does not want his mother to know. When he expresses that he does not want her to know that he is "lucky," his uncle asks why...

Latest answer posted December 14, 2020, 2:05 pm (UTC)

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The Rocking-Horse Winner

It is never made clear precisely why Paul’s mother’s love for Paul’s father, her husband, had “turned to dust.” The narrator says that she did marry “for love,” but something must have changed....

Latest answer posted December 14, 2020, 2:22 pm (UTC)

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The Rocking-Horse Winner

Thanks largely to his avaricious mother's insatiable greed and single-minded obsession with social status, Paul tragically dies. After whipping himself into a frenzy on his rocking horse in a...

Latest answer posted December 14, 2020, 11:28 am (UTC)

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The Rocking-Horse Winner

Paul's mother, Hester, is a woman who values material things: beautiful furnishings, lovely and expensive flowers, bright and modern toys for her children's room. She does not love her husband or...

Latest answer posted December 13, 2020, 4:33 pm (UTC)

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The Rocking-Horse Winner

Bassett keeps Paul's secret probably for a number of reasons. First, he loans Paul money to gamble at first, and when Paul loses that money in his first bet, Bassett helps Paul place more and more...

Latest answer posted December 13, 2020, 4:48 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Rocking-Horse Winner

Whenever Paul hops aboard his rocking horse and rides it to a frenzy, something strange happens. By some mysterious set of circumstances, he's able to predict the outcome of horse races. This is...

Latest answer posted December 13, 2020, 11:48 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Rocking-Horse Winner

In this story, young Paul seeks to create the luck which his mother believes has always eluded her. She sets the tone for their household, and Paul desperately seeks to make his mother happy by...

Latest answer posted December 13, 2020, 11:36 am (UTC)

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The Rocking-Horse Winner

Paul's mother has a fundamental character flaw. She believes that she has no "luck," there is never enough money to satisfy her, and her own sense of failure "made deep lines come into her face."...

Latest answer posted December 14, 2020, 11:23 am (UTC)

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The Rocking-Horse Winner

The main symbol of D. H. Lawrence 's short story "The Rocking-Horse Winner" is the rocking horse itself. Sometimes a symbol can represent more than one idea. That seems to be the case with the...

Latest answer posted December 16, 2020, 7:55 pm (UTC)

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Summary