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This whole story is about, being lucky. A boy named Paul who asked her mother why they are not rich. His mother said this is because your father has no luck. However, Paul was convinced that he could find his own luck. His drive to find luck was fueled by the whispers that he heard throughout the house there must be more money.

He thought that if he found luck he would be able to make the whispers stop. Therefore, Paul would ride like crazy on an old rocking horse he had in his bedroom. He thought that if he rode long enough he would eventually find luck. Then he developed a habit of betting on horse

races with his partner,


Paul said that all he did was ride his rocking horse until something in his head told him who the winner would be; therefore, his uncle got closer to him. When the biggest race of the year came around he rode his horse all night like a madman, for that is what he had become. He eventually knew who would win but ended up dying during the night without having been able to enjoy the eight thousand pounds that he had won for

being lucky.

  • Paul:the main character in the story. He believes that he is a lucky person and with the gift when riding his rocking horse, he can know the winner of horse races. In order to prove her mother that he can find luck ;however, he does not realize there would be a terrible price to pay.
  • Hester:Paul’s mother. She is kind of material woman and does not feel content what she has. She thinks herself having no luck, because her husband is an unlucky person.
The father:Paul’s father. A middle-aged dejection man has no luck.
  • Oscar Cresswell: Paul’s uncle. When noticing that Paul is very lucky at choosing whom the winner would be, he approaches Paul about his lucky. After, he becomes a partner with Paul.
  • Bassett: He is a gardener and a partner with Paul.
  • Joan: Paul’ elder sister.
theme self knowledge


“The Rocking-Horse Winner”is about a family whose parents are so confused about their own values, about the relative importance of love and money. They have committed their lives to the external world and money.

For example, Hester, the mother, is pathetically superficial. She thinks that she is unable to love her children. (paragraph I—only she herself knew that at the centre…) However, in the end of the story, we could tell that she loves Paul as other mothers love their children. (the last page)


According to Lawrence’s definition, the way to live is according to what you are, not what you think you should be made over into; knowing yourself, not external standards.The mother, refusing to clarify what her emotions really are (dare not to admit her love to the children), hopes to control herself and her world by acting “gentle and anxious for her children.” She tries to act what she thinks she should be, not taking adequate notice of what she is and needs. Till the end, Paul collapses. Some deep source of her affection has been released.

Similarly, Paul has a need for affection which he cannot understand and manage. Thus, he attempts to cover this lack of self-knowledge with knowledge about the external world(horse racing→making money→pleases his mother)which he hopes will bring him the love he needs.

Lawrence says: “The real way of living is to answer to one’s wants.” Nevertheless, both Paul and his mother ignore their true feelings and become the slaves of the external standards. They bring themselves miserable ending.

love luck lucre sperm

As we know, Lawrence mentions sex in most of his works. There is no exception in “The Rocking-Horse Winner.” From the first paragraph (she had bonny children,…) , the rhyming verbthrusthas suggested us that Hester’s dissatisfaction is, in large part, sexual. In the story, the money is a symbolic substitute for love and affection, and ultimately for sperm (精液). To Paul, showing his mother that he has luck which his father doesn’t have is the only way to win his mother’s affection and release the whispering around the house. He must have the lucre which comes of luck.


When he sends his mother the birthday present of five thousand pounds hoping to alleviate her problems, his present only makes her colder and more luxurious. At the same time, the house is throughout the voice of his mother’s ideal sexual craving: “There must be more money…” (p. 315).This passage is a mimetic representation of a woman in the throes (掙扎) of sexual climax. However, it is a climax which only titillates (使興奮) without fulfilling. His mother’s lust for lucre is greedy; for fulfilling her appetite, Paul has to drive his luck harder and die exhaustedly after all.

riding horse masturbating
Riding Horse=Masturbating?
  • The act of riding a horse is an obvious symbol for the sex movement.And riding the rocking-horse is the imitation of the sex act for a child.Lawrence says “Sex must go somewhere, especially in young people. So, in our glorious civilization, it goes in masturbation. And the mass of our popular literature, the bulk of our popular amusements just exists to provoke masturbation.” To Lawrence, masturbation is chiefly as a substitute for some sort of intercourse. As a result, we can be easily convinced that Paul’s mysterious ecstasy might be onanism. That is Paul’s “secret of secrets—the wooden horse” (p. 317). We probably can get some clues by the conversation between Paul and his mother. (pp. 310, 317)
Later on, Paul draws back from his family gradually. He takes the rocking-horse to the top of the house and is isolated from his sisters and parents. Lawrence believes that man’s isolation is an unavoidable part of his definition as a human being. He says in “Pornography and Obscenity”—And this is masturbation’s result. Enclosed within the vicious circle of the self, with no vital contacts outside, the self becomes emptier and emptier, till it is almost a nothingness….The great danger of masturbation lies in its merely exhaustive nature. In sexual intercourse, there is a give and take. A new stimulus enters as the native stimulus departs….And this is so in all sexual intercourse where two creatures are concerned.... There is no reciprocity (相互性). There is merely the spending away of a certain force, and no return.The body remains, in a sense, a corpse, after the act of self-abuse.

A corpse—that is what Paul becomes after the last riding of the rocking-horse.

money and capitalism

“The Rocking Horse Winner” is a story about the devastating effects that money can have on a family, and further that Lawrence’s specific objections in the story are not to money abstractly conceived, but to money as it is understood and valued by capitalist culture. The story is a mordant commentary on the distorted and self-destructive values of the upper middle-class and of many of us living in a capitalist, money dominated society.

Money and Capitalism

The house is haunted by the ghost of money, whispering repeatedly the terrible command, “There must be more money!”

Money is the symbolic substitutes for love and affection. To Paul, money isn’t a

good in itself—it is only a way to win his mother’s affection.

“The boy saw him did not believe him… and made him want to compel her affection.”

Paul is driven to his death by the inflexible money mindedness of his parents. The Love of money somehow interferes with the life process.

  • Capitalist:Paul, as a handicapper, he invests money, betting on a profitable return on his investment, and In this sense, he is a capitalist. Indeed, his betting is the sign of the economic relations controlling the world of the story. But at the same time, for what he is investing, in real terms is himself, selling his skills to generate wealth that he is not free to possess.
  • Laborer:Young Paul exemplified

vividly the sort of work that arises

under capital. Simply put, he is a

laborer of hid mother.

Exploitation:Exploitation is the necessary element under the capitalistic society. “The essential meaning of exploitation is that a surplus is seized from the working population for the benefit of a superior class. Paul is exploited by the capitalistic society and the economic pressure that is passed down by his mother.
  • Alienation: In capitalistic and money- dominated society, people are aloof and isolated from one another. Alienation is one of the

component of Capitalism.

Paul is isolated from his parents,

his sisters and even the world.

  • The presence of Christianity in the story is set forth most readily, of course, in the depiction of the young Paul as a Christ figure: not only is he referred to repeatedly as “son”, but he also possesses a seemingly magical power that comes form heaven.
  • The most telling example is Paul himself, who willingly sacrifices himself to save the world into which he was born. His death gives his family the financial independence possible, even while it appears holy and pure, is in fact devilish.
family relationship
Family Relationship


The relationship between husband and wife is obviously cold and boring. They married for love, but when the passion of love passed away, their postnuptial life become tedious. Besides, the husband doesn’t have a good social position and miss the promotion in his job. Therefore, the wife begins to complain about the husband’s unlucky and pursues material needs. However, they still keep the superficial harmony of the family.

“There was a woman who was beautiful, who started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck. She married for love but the love had turned to dust.” (p 307 L. 1-3)

“Although they lived in style, they felt always an anxiety in the house. There was never enough money. The mother had a small income, and the father had a small income, but not nearly enough for the social position which they had to keep up. The father went into town to some office. But though he had good prospects, these prospects never materialized. There was always the grinding sense of the shortage of money, though the style was always kept up. ”
family relationship20
Family Relationship


The relationship between parents and children is quite indifferent. The parents are too busy in keeping their fame, profits, and social position to take care of their children. Nevertheless, children, especially at the age of Paul, need the love and care from parents. Thus, Paul, in order to attract his mother’s attention and piece together the whole family, gambles the horse-racing and gives the money reward to his mother. However, his mother is not satisfied with the money, she wants more and more and finally causes the death of Paul.

family relationship21
Family Relationship

(Oedipus Complex)

Paul Mother Romance -- Reality





(Money, Social position.)



family and society
Family and Society

Family = Society

Mother = Materialism

Paul = sacrifice

= civilized men

= spiritual life

Whispering = Desire