drawing of a young boy riding a rocking-horse

The Rocking-Horse Winner

by D. H. Lawrence

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What are some supernatural elements in "The Rocking-Horse Winner"?

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"The Rocking-Horse Winner" incorporates supernatural elements such as the whispering house, which becomes louder and more frantic regardless of money earned, demonstrating money will never suffice. The primary supernatural aspect is Paul's ability to predict horse race winners by riding his rocking-horse to a mysterious place he calls "there," which detrimentally affects his health. This uncanny ability could be considered a supernatural synergy between Paul and his rocking-horse.

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The first supernatural element we notice in "The Rocking-Horse Winner" involves the whispering of the house. While it seems like a simple metaphor at first, we eventually learn through Paul that the whispers of the house, at least to him, are all too real. Paul thinks that earning...

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a hefty sum and giving it to his mother will quiet the whispers, but it just makes them louder and more frantic, revealing that no amount of money will be enough.The main supernatural element is Paul's uncanny ability to ride his rocking-horse to a place simply called "there." If Paul can get there, he can know the winner of a particular race. This ability is mysterious and never elaborated upon, and judging by the end of the story, clearly has an adverse effect on Paul's health.

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I believe that the best answer to this question is to either claim that Paul himself is the supernatural element, or that the rocking horse is the supernatural element. I suppose you could claim that Paul and the rocking horse have a supernatural synergistic effect. The term "synergistic effect" is often used in health classes when teaching about drugs, uses, and abuses. The synergistic effect occurs when two drugs work in concert with each other to give a better result than each drug could do singly. Paul might be capable of picking fairly good odds on the horse races by himself. It's also possible that any male child riding the rocking horse gains a slight ability to pick future winning horses. We simply do not know. What we do know is that when Paul and the rocking horse are combined, Paul is able to predict winning horses with uncanny accuracy.

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The main supernatural element in "The Rocking-Horse Winner" is the rocking horse itself. It has become more than a children's toy. When Paul rides it hard enough, it will reveal to him the winner of an upcoming race. Paul's uncle can then use this knowledge to place bets on the appropriate horse and win money. The system is not infallible, but it is often correct. How riding a rocking horse allows Paul to see the future is mysterious and uncanny, and it certainly does not follow the normal rules of physics.

The fact that the supernatural relationship Paul achieves with his rocking horse allows him access to almost limitless amounts of money highlights that money is not the problem in this household. Although the mother insists she does not have enough money, no matter how much Paul obtains for her, it is never enough. The money is a substitute for a hole in the mother's heart that can never be filled.

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In D.H. Lawrence's "The Rocking-Horse Winner," there are several elements of the supernatural.

As the boy Paul grows up in a house where money is the major concern of his mother, the house seems to whisper, "There must be more money." This haunts the child.

His mother telling him that life is financially hard because his father has no "luck" indicates that things happen by an invisible, supernatural hand that makes things good for people or not: with or without luck.

The fact that Paul knows which horses to choose in order to win at the races is also fantastical and supernatural in nature.

Even at the end when he rides on his horse in a frenzied state, exhausted and not realizing what he has done, so much so that it kills him, he is driven by what seems to be an unseen force.

All of these things seem to spring from a supernatural place.

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Why do you think supernatural elements are used in the story "The Rocking-Horse Winner"?

Another way of understanding these supernatural forces is to call them "psychological forces" or "needs."  The boy's visions are those surfacing from his unconscious (as in a dream), and the house talking signifies a need for money, which in turn signifies, on the part of the boy, a desire for/ or to please his mother.

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