Psychological Analysis of Rocking Horse Winner

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Type of Work and Narration

.......“The Rocking-Horse Winner” is a short story that incorporates elements of the fable, the fantasy, and the fairy tale. Like a fable, it presents a moral (although it does so subtly, without preachment). Like a fantasy, it presents chimerical events (the boy’s ability to foretell the winners of horse races, the whispering house). Like a fairy tale, it sets the scene with simple words like those in a Mother Goose story: “There was a woman who was beautiful, who started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck. She married for love, and the love turned to dust. She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them. . . . There were a boy and two little girls. They lived in a pleasant house, with a garden, and they had discreet servants, and felt themselves superior to anyone in the neighbourhood.”

.......D. H. Lawrence wrote the story in omniscient third-person point of view, enabling him to reveal the thoughts of the characters.

Publication Dates

.......“The Rocking-Horse Winner” first appeared in Harper's Bazaar magazine in July 1926. Hutchinson & Company then published it in London later in the same year in a collection entitled Ghost Stories. In January 1933, Martin Secker published the story in London in another collection, The Lovely Lady. Viking Press in New York published The Lovely Lady later in the same year.



.......In her preoccupation with material things, Hester neglects to provide Paul the love he needs to develop into a normal, mentally stable child. 

Faulty Sense of Values

.......Hester makes stylish living the chief goal of her marriage. Consequently, her relationship with her husband and the care and nurture of her children—in particular, Paul—stagnate. Whenever money becomes available, she spends beyond her means. Though she and her husband rear their children in a "pleasant house" with servants and a nurse, they seem to regard them as objects for display, like the furnishings in the home. Hester's spending and indebtedness create anxiety that haunts the house and personifies itself by repeatedly whispering the phrase: "There must be more money."


.......Lust for material objects, stylish living, and money so obsesses Paul's mother that she neglects Paul and his sisters. Paul then "inherits" her obsession. But he wants to win money for his mother, not for himself, in order to prove that he has the luck that his father lacks. Having luck and money will make him lovable to his mother, he apparently believes, and silence the house voices. When he discovers that the five thousand pounds he sets aside for her is not enough to achieve his goals, he becomes obsessed with winning more. His mania ultimately kills him.


.......Oscar Creswell acknowledges that Paul's wagering makes him nervous. But rather than take steps to stop Paul, he encourages him and asks for tips on winning horses. When Paul lies deathly ill muttering the name of his pick for the Derby, Oscar runs off "in spite of himself" and places a bet on the horse at fourteen to one odds. 


.......Paul rides his rocking horse like a knight on a quest. He seeks a great prize, luck, that will enable him to win money wagering on horses. His winnings will free his mother from a great monster, indebtedness, that consumes all of her attention. Once free, she will be able to turn her attention to Paul and give him the greatest prize of all: love.


In the first paragraph of the story, the narrator says Hester does not love her children. Nevertheless, outwardly she pretends to love them, and people say, "She is a good mother. She adores her children."

Nonverbal Communication

.......Much of the communication in the story comes through the eyes. For example, on the question of whether the mother loves her children, the...
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