Individuals have struggled with ignorance time and time again, and this ignorance can penetrate every aspect of their lives. In the short story by D. H. Lawrence, “The Rocking-Horse Winner“, young Paul has to encounter a series of misfortunate events, due to the fact that his beloved ambitious mother is unworthy of the what she has and each circumstance leads him and his family to great distress. With a burden on his shoulders, he will not stop until he gets what his mother desperately desires. He takes a huge responsibility that no kid at such a young age should take.
Paul not only wants to resolve the financial crisis his family has been dealing with, but also satisfy his mother’s materialistic pleasures, because his mother told him how they were “not lucky“ and he is desperately anxious to prove her wrong. The role that takes place in their lives is wrongly messing with their future and everything leads them to a devastating ending, which is Paul’s death. Some parents are not aware of how much of an influence they are to their children; in this case Hester’s parental habits and lack of self-restrain are reflected in the tragic ending of her son’s life.
Hester, Paul’s mother, doesn’t realize that her perspective of life is greatly affecting her child’s life as well. She has a rare aspect of seeing things, she believes that luck is what brings you money and that without it you won’t be wealthy. She is incapable of realizing or admitting that what would really bring you wealthy or at least a decent and stable social status, is hard work and dedication. Nevertheless, her comprehension of this was entirely incorrect, for she believed all but this. Hester saw herself as lucky, as Lawrence states, “…a woman who was beautiful, who started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck. Hester truly acknowledged the fact that she now had no luck because “She married for love,…”. She states that her husband was unlucky so she too had to share his misfortune since they engaged in marriage. They were both the type of people who seemed to never be capable of fully committing to a job or to at least try their best and not give up on it. They always seemed to lack the coherence of being capable of fully understanding what they really need. They both came short when it came to hard work. Things would have been different if they would have seeing the big picture.
Hester forgot the true meaning of being wealthy. She thought it was having vast amount of money, but what is the good of that if you don’t love. When Paul first decides that he is lucky, he did it when he was merely an innocent child. How could he not want to be lucky? All that really stressed out the mother was the lack of money in the house. Despite the fact that the house constantly whispered “there must be more money”, he took all this into consideration and concluded that the only thing that would make his mother happy would be money and the luxury of being wealthy.
He thought that money would come if he was lucky, just like his mom told him, so he goes on living his life wanting to be lucky. Responsibility stormed into Paul’s life and he searched for a resource that would give him money. His resort was gambling with horses and Basset, the gardener, was of much help. He was true to Paul and he kept the secret with only himself. When he won with the “ten-shillings note” that his Uncle Oscar gave him, he then thought Uncle Oscar was lucky and became partners with him.
Once Paul gets a hold of money that he thinks will satisfy his mom he is excessively ecstatic, until he soon finds out that the money made no difference because the more he feed his mother’s greed the hungrier she got. His method did not resolve anything the house was now more focused than ever on the priority of money by saying “there must be more money,” The mom then spends the money on things that will hold up their reputation of social positions. Lawrence explains how: ”There were certain new furnishings, and Paul had a tutor… There were flowers in the winter, and a blossoming of the luxury Paul’s mother had been used to. At this point in the story Paul feels accomplished but is let down and is now more than ever aware that he needs more and more money to satisfy and prove Hester that he too was lucky. The only way to be sure of what horse was going to win the next race was by rocking on his wooden horse and so he did this even more. This became more than a habit to him, but also was a secret and a hobby in which he felt the necessity to do this more than ever. This was a secret no one knew about; not even Basset or Uncle Oscar. Paul wouldn’t dare tell anyone of how he would be “sure” of who would win.
This at first seemed absurd to Uncle Oscar because he wasn’t really sure of how certain Paul was when it came to gambling. The symbolism that Paul’s rocking horse showed to be was that of someone who constantly did “non-productive labor“, Daniel P. Watkins expresses: “for even when it moves it remains stationary: even while Paul is magically (humanly) creative, producing untold wealth for his mother, he does not advance in the least,”(4) on the contrary he lost social contact with the world because he desperately wants to get there, the place with the answers, as Paul says in, “The Rocking Horse Winner”: “Now, take me to where there is luck!
Now take me”. When Paul’s tragic end came, Hester was finally starting to notice a rare behavior on her child, nevertheless this sudden awareness came awfully late. Paul died from an excessive fever and yet he felt accomplished and lucky knowing that once again he had picked the correct winning horse. Greed had taken control over him as well. This wasn’t entirely his fault, for parents are the ones responsible on how they should raise their children. Was Hester really being a “good” parent to her children?
In Practitioner assessments in “good enough” parenting: factorial survey, Julie Taylor and colleagues have concluded on a “general agreement” that establishes a good parenting foundation to be of “the setting of boundaries, consistency, unconditional love and most importantly, putting the child’s needs first”(Taylor et al. 2). In the “Rocking Horse Winner”, Hester puts her son’s life in jeopardy and his needs were never put first. In fact, young Paul put his mother’s needs first, for he wanted the best for his family. Paul’s habits started to change thought the story.
He wouldn’t really communicate with any of his family, except for maybe Uncle Oscar and Basset. According to James Snyder, Ellen Horsch and Jocelyn Childs “Children’s socialization, including modulation of the expression of aggression, is embedded in the extensiveness and repeatedly daily interactions of children with a number of agents (parents, siblings, peers, and teachers)…” (James Snyder, Ellen Horsch and Jocelyn Childs 1)The way a child acts upon something or anything is greatly reflected by the parent’s actions.
Hester was greedy from head to toe, not to mention Paul’s father, how could poor Paul ever ignore what his parents silently screamed? The need of money was always present. It got to the point where Paul’s interaction with the outside world was greatly affected, for now his most precious desire was to rock on his horse until he got the answers he wanted. Paul shows great character, for he stays true to himself throughout the whole story, and even when the situation was a matter of life or death he did not seem to ever give up on his main focus, money.
Hester’s greed and ambition pushed Paul to the extremes and made her oblivious to her true life that was being consumed by ambition and desire. Love was something that “would turned to dust” says Lawrence and when Paul dies she experienced the true meaning of love turning into dust. Lawrence clearly explains that, “Only she herself knew that at the center of her heart was a hard little place that could feel no love, no, not for anybody. Only she herself, and her children themselves, knew. They read it in each other’s eyes. She didn’t really feel the love for her children. Instead she just wanted to maintain her social status and give herself the luxury of spending money. Paul dies perhaps full of bliss and luck to find out that once again he had chosen the winning horse. Nevertheless, we can expect that Paul’s death was in vain, for Hester didn’t know how much Paul was gambling. Paul wasn’t just gambling his money, but also his life. Ambition and greed are not worthy visitors, they will never be satisfied and feeding them will not be worth the price.
Paul was building up his vision of one’s self, according to what his mother thought. He and everyone else could perceive the lack of money in the house. Paul didn’t have to go to such extremes to satisfy his mother, and Hester could have paid more attention to her pleading child instead of her absorbed self. Moreover, Paul was an intelligent child that had a horrible tragedy and it wasn’t his fault he had to carry such a great responsibility in such a a young innocent age.
We should all know parents play a huge role on their children’s lives and the actions parents take are very well reflected on your children’s eyes. As it’s been said by Charles Koban in “Allegory and the death of the heart in “The Rocking-Horse Winner”: “Paul’s death of course makes the story a tragic one; but just as tragic is the death of innocence and love, symbolized by Paul, in his unfortunate mother. ”(3)