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Friday, July 15, 2011

Short Story Analysis: "The Rocking Horse Winner" by DH Lawrence


By DH Lawrence


         A mother who has a son and two daughters is not contented with her marriage because she married a poor, unlucky man. But although they are a poor family, they live in style. She wants money, and nothing but money. She does not love her kids.

        Paul, her son, wants to help his mother have money, especially that their household seems to shout “more money!” He regards himself as lucky, so he tries his luck at betting for a horse at the derby together with his Uncle Oscar. This luck comes from his “foreseeing the winning horse” when he rides his rocking horse at home. Indeed, the horse he has placed a bet on wins, and he gets ten thousand pounds. 

          With the help of Uncle Oscar, five thousand pounds is put away for Paul’s mother who receives a thousand for five successive years, on her birthday, under the impression that such money is from a relative. However, greedy as he is, she wants the whole amount at once, and she gets it, with Paul’s approval. Then the household becomes stylish as ever, and it seems to shout all the more “more money!”

         Wanting to please her mother, Paul rides his rocking horse often. One night, he fell from it from riding so hard and gets hurt badly. That fatal ride has earned him eighty thousand from the winning horse. On his death bed, he seems happy and proud that he has won, for his selfish mother.


1.  Hester- the greedy mother
2   Paul – her son who can “foresee” which horse will win
3.  Uncle Oscar – Paul’s companion at the derby
4.  Bassett – the gardener who Paul considers as his bestfriend and partner in betting at horses


a)  Introduction

      This story begins by describing the woman as beautiful yet unlucky because she married a poor man.

b)  Rising Action

      Even if they live in style, the woman’s and her husband’s income put together is not enough. Hence, the household has an unspoken phrase: “more money!”

c)  Climax

        Paul wins ten thousand at the derby.

d)   Falling action

       Although Paul has “foreseen” the winning horse’s name wherein he eventually earns eighty thousand, he falls from the rocking horse.

       e)  Denouement

        The dying Paul still has his mother on his mind, and he is happy that he won eighty thousand for her.

       a)  place –  in England
       b)  time-  after World War I
       c)  weather conditions - fine
       d)  social conditions- the family was poor yet lived in style
       e)  mood or atmosphere –tense
           The Point of View used in this short story is the Omniscient ObjectiveThe author tells the story in the third person.  It appears as though a camera is following the characters, going anywhere, and recording only what is seen and heard.  There is no comment on the characters or their thoughts. No interpretations are offered.  The reader is placed in the position of spectator without the author there to explain.  The reader has to interpret events on his own.


             In my opinion, the literary devices used in this story are Symbolism and Irony.

         Symbolism – I believe that the rocking horse here stands for the luck from which Paul gets to “foresee” the winning horse’s name. On the other hand, the household’s unspoken yet dominant phrase “more money” symbolizes greed, selfishness, and materialism.

         Irony – The mother gets big money in exchange for her son Paul’s life.


              For me, the themes It is not good to be greedy and also Live within your means are applicable to this story.


               The conflicts here are Internal:

Man vs. Circumstances (classical) - The leading character struggles against fate, or the circumstances of life facing him/her. 

                 The greedy Hester is unhappy about being poor. Meanwhile, Paul is unhappy that his mother is unhappy.

Man vs. Society (social) - The leading character struggles against ideas, practices, or customs of other people.
                   Hester wants to “keep up with the Joneses.”    -- ARV

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