'The Rocking-Horse Winner' Insight into Short Story

by Rowan Finley 2 months ago in book review

Money cannot buy true love

'The Rocking-Horse Winner' Insight into Short Story
Photo by Orlando Allo

As most children growing up, I never had to worry about the affairs involving money. All I knew was that I was well taken care of and happy. Now that I have entered into the realm of adulthood, I have begun to experience some of the financial stress of having to provide for myself. There have been times in my life when I find myself desiring more money, in hopes of gaining the respect and acceptance of others. In The Rocking-Horse Winner, D. H. Lawrence explores the futile attempt of the pursuit of wealth as a desperate means of obtaining love and acceptance.

One of the reasons that I chose The Rocking-Horse Winner was because I found myself identifying with the main character, Paul. In the story Paul is a child who has grown up with all the necessities of life and also many luxuries. Though Paul and his two sisters are well-provided for, it is evident in the story's exposition that they are neglected and their mother doesn't love them. The story doesn't state this directly, but rather hints at it through hidden layers and meanings. For example, the name Paul means "small; humble." This name appears to be apropos for the character seeing as he is unloved. The story exemplifies how this family buys lots of nice things, but yet the children's toys seem to whisper, "There must be more money!" and Paul makes a clear connection. He begins to believe that if there is more money, then love and acceptance will follow. I, too, have experienced an epiphany similar to Paul's. At one time I wanted nothing more than to be respected and accepted by certain people in my life. After endeavoring to get their attention, I began to think that the only way to gain their approval was by having money.

In his childlike way, Paul uses desperate measures to acquire money in order to make his mother happy. "He would sit on his big rocking-horse, charging madly into space...his eyes had a strange glare in them." Paul even asks his rich uncle for a whip so that he can speed up the process by whipping his horse into taking him to where the luck or money is. In the story, Paul wins a large sum of money; I was less successful. I attempted a few business ventures that ended in me getting scammed out of my money. I was trying to win the hearts of my possible future in-laws. Paul was trying to win the heart of his mother. Eventually Paul's mother catches him in his room "in his green pajamas, madly surging on the rocking-horse." I think that there may be significance between his green pajamas, the mother's pale green dress, and what he is seeking: money. Though British pounds aren't green, American dollars are.

The climax of the story occurs when Paul makes his final bet on the horse Malabar. He goes unconscious and his eyes are said to have been "like blue stones." While Paul's eyes once looked upon his mother with hope of her acceptance, now they have hardened forever. All he wanted was to be loved by his mother, recognized as being "lucky." In the end of the story, Paul wins 80,000 pounds from betting the racing horse Malabar, but sadly he loses his life. While I desperately tried to gain my potential in-laws approval, eventually it didn't matter anymore because they helped end the relationship that I had with their daughter anyway.

In the story The Rocking-Horse Winner, all of the foiled characters struggle with greed, while Paul struggled for acceptance. I think the rocking-horse symbolizes people who spend their entire lives racing towards goals of getting rich, but then they never achieve it. Or, if they do end up obtaining great wealth, then they realize that it wasn't all it was cracked up to be anyway. The motivation for Paul was to somehow satisfy his thirst for love and approval. I have come to understand, through this poignant story, that genuine love and respect cannot be earned by offering superficial wealth—it is like trying to win a race on a rocking-horse that has no true means of going anywhere.

book review
Rowan Finley
Rowan Finley
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Rowan Finley

Husband. Father. Academic Advisor. Musician. Artist. Writer. I hope that what I write will inspire others in the best of ways. I enjoy being obvious and mysterious. I would love to hear from you. Email me at:[email protected]

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