Analysis of “The Rocking Horse Winner” By D.H. Lawrence


Summary of “The Rocking Horse Winner”

“The Rocking Horse Winner” by D.H. Lawrence is a short story about a young boy named Paul who lives with his mother and father in a luxurious home in England. Despite their wealth, Paul’s family is plagued by unhappiness and dissatisfaction, rooted in his mother’s constant need for more money. She is never content with what she has and always wants more, which leads her to gamble and place bets on horse races.

As a result of her constant craving for wealth, Paul’s mother becomes emotionally distant from her family, and the home is filled with a sense of unease and anxiety. To alleviate the stress and anxiety, Paul begins to rock on his wooden horse, which he received as a gift for his birthday. However, he soon discovers that his rocking horse has magical powers and can help him predict the winners of horse races. He shares this information with his uncle Oscar, a successful businessman who enjoys gambling. They begin to place bets and make a substantial amount of money.

However, Paul’s obsession with the rocking horse and his desire to make more money to please his mother leads to his death. He becomes ill and unable to continue riding his rocking horse, but he remains persistent in his pursuit of success. In the end, Paul dies from exhaustion, and his mother is left to grieve the loss of her son.

Throughout the story, the theme of the corrupting power of money is evident. Paul’s mother’s insatiable desire for wealth is portrayed as a destructive force that consumes her and her family, leading to the ultimate downfall of her son. The rocking horse represents the lure of wealth and success, and Paul’s death is symbolic of the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of material wealth.

Moreover, the story also highlights the importance of family and the emotional void created when love and affection are replaced by materialism and greed. Paul’s mother’s emotional detachment from her family directly results from her focus on wealth, and her constant desire for money diminishes her love for her son.

Major Themes in “The Rocking Horse Winner”

“The Rocking-Horse Winner” by D.H. Lawrence is a short story that explores several different themes still relevant to modern society. The pieces of love, obsession, wealth, and the consequences of these actions are woven into the narrative, creating a compelling and thought-provoking story.

One of the story’s central themes is love, or the lack thereof. The protagonist, a young boy named Paul, lives in a household with little love or affection. Paul’s mother is obsessed with material wealth and constantly yearns for more money, while his father is distant and emotionally detached. This lack of love and affection creates a void in Paul’s life that he tries to fill with his hobby of riding his rocking horse. Paul’s desire to please his mother and win her love becomes an obsession that ultimately leads to his downfall. This theme highlights the importance of love and the negative consequences that can occur when it is absent from a child’s life.

Another theme in “The Rocking-Horse Winner” is an obsession. Paul’s mother is consumed by her desire for wealth and status, which drives her to gamble and lose significant amounts of money. This leads to her asking Paul for cash, which he gives her. Paul becomes obsessed with winning money for his mother and begins to ride his rocking horse for hours on end, searching for the lucky name of a horse that will win a race. This obsession consumes him and causes him to ignore his health, leading to his eventual death. This theme underscores the dangers of obsession and the consequences of allowing it to take over one’s life.

Wealth is also a central theme in “The Rocking-Horse Winner.” Paul’s mother is constantly dissatisfied with her life and believes more money will bring happiness. However, she finds that no matter how much money she has, she can never have enough. This highlights the idea that wealth cannot bring happiness and that there is always a desire for more. Paul’s obsession with winning money for his mother leads to his death, further emphasizing this theme. The story also shows that wealth can be destructive, causing people to ignore the things that truly matter.

Finally, “The Rocking-Horse Winner” also explores the consequences of our actions. Paul’s mother’s obsession with wealth and her constant desire for more money negatively impact her family, leading to Paul’s death. This theme highlights that our actions have consequences and that we must be aware of how they may affect those around us. The story warns that our efforts can have long-lasting effects and that we must consider the consequences of our actions.

The setting of the Story

The setting of “The Rocking Horse Winner” by D.H. Lawrence is in England, in a middle-class suburban neighborhood. The story is set in the early 20th century and reflects cultural values and norms. The protagonist, Paul, lives in a large, sprawling house with his mother, father, and siblings. The house is described as gloomy and is said to be haunted by a lack of love and affection. The family is constantly worried about money and their standard of living, which creates a sense of anxiety and unease in the household.

The suburban neighborhood where the family lives is also described as bland and uninteresting, with identical houses lined up in a row, further emphasizing the lack of warmth and individuality in the setting. Throughout the story, the focus is on the family’s struggle with money, which serves as a metaphor for their lack of emotional and spiritual fulfillment. The setting reflects the cultural norms and values of the time, emphasizing the importance of material wealth and status over personal happiness and contentment.

Characters of “The Rocking Horse Winner”

The characters of “The Rocking Horse Winner” by D.H. Lawrence are complex and multi-dimensional, each with unique motivations, desires, and flaws. The story’s central character is Paul, a young boy searching for love and affection. Despite his mother’s constant criticism, Paul is driven by an intense desire to please her and win her love. He turns to his rocking horse as a source of comfort, spending hours riding it and imagining that he is the winner of great races.

Paul’s mother, the protagonist of the story, is depicted as a cold and distant figure driven by her insecurities and greed. Despite her wealth, she is consumed by her obsession with material possessions and her desire to maintain her social status. She constantly worries about money and lacks the emotional capacity to love her son. Her neglect of Paul and her cold demeanor drives him to seek love and validation through his hobby of riding his rocking horse.

The character of Uncle Oscar is a complex figure who serves as a mentor to Paul. He is a successful businessman and gambling enthusiast who recognizes Paul’s potential and takes him under his wing. Despite his vices, Uncle Oscar is a kind and supportive figure who genuinely cares for Paul and helps to nurture his talent for picking winning horses.

Finally, Bassett is a servant in the household who serves as a voice of reason and stability in Paul’s life. He is a nurturing and loving figure who cares deeply for Paul and knows the boy’s search for love and validation. He is a source of comfort and support for Paul, helping to provide him with the love and affection he desperately seeks.


In conclusion, “The Rocking Horse Winner” by D.H. Lawrence is a poignant and thought-provoking story that explores the consequences of materialism and greed. The author uses vivid imagery and symbolism to illustrate the destructive power of money and the importance of family and emotional connections. The story is a cautionary tale about the dangers of pursuing wealth at the expense of love and happiness.

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