Lawrence's Literary Devices
When reading various works of literature, one often overlooks the importance of certain themes, symbols, and styles of writing that emphasize or even create the messages or feelings the author is attempting to convey. These subtle details are essentially the meat and potatoes of any work, and therefore one cannot comprehend the true meaning of the work without fully understanding these literary devices. D.H. Lawrence's The Rocking Horse Winner is a short story chock full of literary devices that turns this story from a simple, sad tale of a young boy into a grand dilemma consisting of sex, greed, neglect, and hidden lust.
Sexual tones are expressed throughout the story through symbols, character interactions, and Lawrence's word usage. The boy's rocking horse and the manner in which Lawrence describes the use of this horse can be considered very sexual. "The rocking horse is his "mount" which is "forced" onwards in a "furious ride" towards "frenzy." These descriptions are very suggestive of sexual activity" (Themes 2). The first time Lawrence tells of Paul riding his horse, Paul's sisters are present in the same room. The sisters' reactions to witnessing Paul riding his horse point towards him doing something inappropriate and sexual, as if he were masturbating. Lawrence writes, "When the two girls were playing dolls in the nursery, he would sit on his big rocking-horse
with a frenzy that made the girls peer at him uneasily
The little girls dared not speak to him" (Lawrence). The boy is clearly doing something that his sisters will not, and probably could not, associate themselves with. The climactic scene at the end, when Paul dies as a result of riding his horse too hard, strongly relates to masturbation. Even Lawrence himself indirectly relates this scene to masturbation in one of his other works, an essay entitled "Pornography and Obscenity." Simon Baker speaks of this subject, "Likewise, it is impossible to ignore the...
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Noelle Watson. St. James Press, 1994.
Lawrence, D.H. "The Rocking Horse Winner." Literature: The British Tradition. Ed. Lindsay
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Piedmont-Marton, Elisabeth. Short Stories for Students: "An Overview of "The Rocking-Horse
Winner"". Detroit: Gale Research, 1997.
Junkins, Donald. "The Rocking-Horse Winner: A Modern Myth". EXPLORING Short Stories. Detroit: Gale, 2003.
Themes and Construction: "The Rocking-Horse Winner". EXPLORING Short Stories. Detroit:
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