Bruce's Reviews > The Rocking Horse Winner

The Rocking Horse Winner by D.H. Lawrence
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Oct 11, 11

Read in October, 2011

** spoiler alert ** Paul, the son of a loveless mother who is never satisfied with her lot, who considers herself unlucky because she hasn’t more money, obsesses about how he might help her be lucky, happy, and the home serene. At first he tries to ask her what being lucky means, and the only answer he receives is that people who are lucky have money. But no amount of money would ever be enough for her, that seems certain.

Nonetheless, Paul, by riding his rocking horse to the point of frenzy, seems to have developed the uncanny ability to predict what horse will win each race at the local track. Of course, he cannot always be sure, and when he is not he often loses. But when he is sure, his intuition is infallible. He makes more and more money, thousands of pounds. When he surreptitiously manages to have his mother receive some of it, she is still not satisfied.

Finally, in an orgy of rocking, he is able to predict a winner that earns him 80,000 pounds, but the ride pushes him over the edge into brain fever and death. His mother has won a huge amount of money at the price of her son.

This story has more that a small amount of the aura of the fantastic, if not technically magical realism at least its verisimilitude. There is almost a fairy tale quality to it. Throughout there is a crabbed sense of greed and meanness, of unhappiness that seeks relief in riches, unhappiness that can never be satisfied. A small child takes upon himself the impossible task of making a loveless and eternally unsatisfied adult be happy, a futile aspiration guaranteed to rob him of his childhood, in a real sense of his life. What burdens we often place upon our children, burdens that are impossible to carry, burdens that are really our own. The worst of these may be our requiring them to meet our own emotional needs, to fill the emptiness that resides in our own heart. And in so doing we can kill the innocence and spontaneity, the freedom and happiness that are the joy of childhood. Whatever is gained cannot compensate for what is lost.
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