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D.H. Lawrence’s “The Rocking-Horse Winner”

A relationship between a mother and son should be full of unconditional love. The mother should be able to provide for the son, and in return, the son should look to the mother for comfort and stability. In D.H. Lawrence’s “The Rocking-Horse Winner,” the relationship between the protagonist, Paul and his mother is not ideal at all. The first indication that the relationship between Paul and his mother is not ideal is when the mother is first introduced to us in the story. She reveals she feels her children “had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them,” whenever her children were present, “she always felt the center of her heart go hard” (592).

She never really gives her children a chance because she is more concerned with herself, and she always feels negativity towards them. Her obsession with money and the status it would provide for her completely takes control of her emotions and her ability to create a stable and healthy relationship between her and Paul. Her uncontrollable cravings for money create an “anxiety in the house” and a constant whispering that “there must be more money” (592). The constant whispering symbolizes the mother’s need for money and the unhealthy environment for her children.

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Another indication the relationship between Paul and his mother is not perfect is that the relationship is completely one-sided. Paul consumes all of his time and energy into finding luck after his mother tells him, “‘If you are lucky you have money” (593). Paul knows that if he finds luck, it will bring money, which will bring happiness to his mother. Paul’s luck is found when he rides his rocking horse and knows which horse to bet on. When his uncle asks what he will do with the money, Paul unselfishly responds by saying, “‘ I started it for mother.

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She said she had no luck…so I thought if I was lucky, it might stop whispering'” (598). Even though he knows his mother doesn’t care for him, he still goes through all the trouble trying to give her happiness. The one-sided relationship is shown again when Paul anonymously gives his mother “a birthday present of a thousand pounds for five successive years” (598). When his mother discovers her generous gift, her face hardens, becoming expressionless (599). She is not grateful for the gift; instead of wondering where the money came from, she is more occupied with receiving the money all at once (599).

Paul is desperate to please her and “lets her have it” (599). As a result of his mother’s lack of maturity in raising a family, Paul starts to take the responsibilities of his parents by providing for the family. Throughout the story, Paul desperately seeks attention and approval from his mother. His first attempt at gaining her approval is when he tells her he is “lucky” (593). However, she responds by “paying no attention to his assertion” (593). Paul’s mother is so concerned with money that she doesn’t even know that he is gambling. She just lets him do whatever he wants as if she doesn’t care.

Paul seeks his mother’s approval even at his very last moments of life. He tries to convince her by saying, “‘Mother did I ever tell you. I’m lucky'” (602). His mother responds cold-heartedly by saying, “‘No, you never did” (602) even though he actually did. Some may say that his mother did actually care for him and her love changed for him in the end, when she had “sudden seizures of uneasiness about him…[and] wanted to rush to him at once and know he was safe”(600). However, she doesn’t actually care for him because she shows no emotion about his death.

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Paul’s relationship with his mother was not ideal at all. His mother provided an unhealthy environment for him with her obsession with money. Paul believed if he could provide his mother with money, it would appease her unhappiness, and she would approve and nurture him as a mother should. Irony plays a major role in the end because instead of luck bringing Paul happiness, it initially brings him to his death bed.

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D.H. Lawrence's "The Rocking-Horse Winner". (2021, Sep 14). Retrieved August 14, 2022, from