“The Rocking-Horse Winner”
I. Use of irony in “The Rocking-Horse Winner”
A. Verbal irony
1. In the opening sentence, the mother “had no luck.”
2. The opening sentence is literally true only in the restricted sense that the mother gives for luck: “It’s what causes you to have money.”
B. Dramatic irony
3. The boy’s last words are “I am lucky.”
4. Again, the statement can only be literally true within the mother’s restricted definition of luck.
5. The boy’s mistake about “filthy lucker” points to Lawrence’s theme, for confusing luck with lucre causes all of the unhappiness in the story.
Note: The English language has many examples of this blurring of “luck” with “lucre” (e.g., “having good fortune” and “amassing a fortune”).
C. Irony of situation: The woman who considers herself unlucky has been extremely lucky in a truer sense of the word.
II. Characterization in “The Rocking-Horse Winner”
D. The mother
6. Truly lucky in many ways
b) “Started with all the advantages”
c) Married for love
d) Had “bonny” children
e) Artistic talent
7. Has foibles which negate her true luck
a) An inability to love
b) A need to live “in style”
c) A need to “keep up” social position
d) Expensive taste
2. Differs, however, from evil stock characters of fairy tales
e) Is not cruel
f) Gentle and anxious for her children
g) Has a heart that is “curiously heavy” when she sees her son becoming overwrought
h) Feels “rushes of anxiety” for her son while she is at a party
Note:We must question, however, if gentleness and anxiety
are equal to love. Love always puts the beloved first, and is willing to...