drawing of a young boy riding a rocking-horse

The Rocking-Horse Winner

by D. H. Lawrence

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In "The Rocking-Horse Winner," what is the protagonist's epiphany?

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One might say that Paul, the boy protagonist of "The Rocking-horse Winner" never has a real epiphany, not one that allows him to rip the veil away from his identification with his mother's need for money so that he can understand that she will never be satisfied. He never learns that his ever more violent rocking on his rocking-horse to discover the winner of upcoming races is an exercise in futility.

The "epiphany" he has in his childish way is that he is "lucky." Luck has been important all through the story: the mother attributes the family's lack of money to live well and in style to bad luck, particularly her husband's bad luck and her own in marrying him. Paul learns from his mother that luck brings money and so luck becomes his quest. At the end of the story, after he wins 80,000 pounds betting on the Derby, his ironic epiphany is that he is lucky. But the effort of winning kills him, so he is not so lucky after all.

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