drawing of a young boy riding a rocking-horse

The Rocking-Horse Winner

by D. H. Lawrence

Start Free Trial

Is Paul's death in "The Rocking-Horse Winner" considered ironic?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Yes, Paul's death is ironic, as it is the opposite of what he intended. He rode the rocking horse furiously to determine which real horses would win races so that he could earn his mother's love. Yet he dies without winning it.

Paul's death is a sad irony. He was too young and innocent to know that there was no amount of money he could win that would fill the hole in his mother's heart. No matter how much he won, she would always need more. He never would have been loved by her either, because she had no capacity to love her children, as the opening of the story informs us.

Paul took literally his mother's stated need for money. But it is clear she was using the money to try to fill in for some other lack in her soul. Paul was inevitably going to kill himself if he kept try to get her more of her drug of cash. She was like an addict—but he didn't understand that.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Paul selflessness in riding his rocking horse in a frenzy to determine the winners of the horse races is what drives him to death; moreover, it is, ironically, a selflessness that is unrecognized by his selfish mother who thinks only of her own imagined plight. Paul dies from love for his mother, but her heart is "a stone."


Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Yes, Paul’s death is ironic because his mother was completely selfish.  He died because of her.  He was tryingto help her so she could have all she needed.  She was at a party while he was getting sicker and sicker.  She was not able to see what he was doing for her sake.  The sexual/Oedipus element is ironic too.  The Oedipus complex suggests that a boy wants to possess his mother, and the rocking horse riding can be considered a sexual metaphor

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial