The Rocking-horse Winner

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In the short story ?The Rocking Horse Winner,? D.H.

Lawrence uses his characters as symbols in support of the theme, that innocence cannot survive when confronted with greed and selfishness. This theme is prominent twice in the story. First the theme is shown through the corruption of Paul, leading him to push himself to extremes which ultimately lead to the second, and more horrifying example, his death. According to one critic, this story proves to be ?Lawrence?s strongest indictment of materialism, and the strongest demonstration of the incompatibility of the love of money and the love of human beings?(Kaplan 1972).

Paul is a symbol of innocence. He is a child, and, through their inexperience of the world and their surroundings, children are innocent. In the beginning of the story, Paul starts to question his mother about their lack of money, in the pursuit of somehow understanding his mother?s unhappiness.

It is a futile mission to begin with, but in his innocence, Paul does not realize this. At this point in the story, the mother makes her biggest mistake.

She tells Paul that luck is what ?causes you to have money.

If you are lucky, you have money?(320). Paul then begins to believe that by becoming lucky, or making money, he can make his mother happy, and therefore gain his mother?s love. In the words of Frank Anon, Paul thus becomes a ?victim? of his mother?s rationale (222-234). Another critic notes that Paul should be a child who is secure in his mother?s love, so that he is able to seek relationships outside of his family, and instead he is arrested in his development (Kaplan 1972).

The mother is a symbol of unquenchable greed. She feels that they are the ?poor members of the family,? as she tells Paul...