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The Rocking-Horse Winner

By D. H. Lawrence (0)

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A family loses love and fortune in D.H. Lawrence’s frequently anthologized short story, “The Rocking-Horse Winner.” The mother, a middleclass Englishwoman, feels that she is unlucky, and her children absorb this belief. Her son Paul begins placing bets on horse races with Bassett, the gardener, and Paul often picks a winner, saving the money to help with the family finances. After a spectacular win, the boy and his uncle arrange a gift of five thousand pounds to Paul’s mother. Unfortunately, she is profligate with the unexpected windfall, and soon finances are again strained. His mother discovers that Paul has been riding his rocking horse frantically, all in order to get into a mental state where he can foresee a racetrack win. As the Derby approaches, Paul works himself into a physical collapse, and he dies, leaving his mother with a fortune, but no son. Readers are invited to interpret the symbolism of the horse, luck, and money in Lawrence's masterful portrait of family dysfunction.