The Rocking Horse Winner Summary and Analysis: 2022

The Rocking Horse Winner is a short story by author D.H. Lawrence about a young boy, Paul, and his effort to make his mother happy by winning large sums of money.

The Rocking Horse Winner Summary 

In the mid-1920s, a woman who lives in a London suburb lives comfortably in a well-furnished house with several retainers but is convinced that she has no luck. Hester is beautiful and young, but her husband could not succeed beyond his normal position in the city. Her children understood that irrespective of the attention and care she offers, she does not love them. She feels that there is a hard little place at the center of her existence that stops her from loving people.

Paul is a sensitive boy and Hester’s favorite. He understands that his mother is unhappy and on the verge of adolescence, he is curious to know the ways around the adult world. He asks why the family does not have a car and has to take taxis or borrow Oscar’s car, to which Hester replies that his father has no luck. Paul does not understand the insufficiency of money and its connection with luck.

Paul and the other children are unaware of the financials and do not understand their mother’s concern. Paul thinks about the issues and takes an imaginative ride on his favorite toy- a rocking horse. That is when he makes an abstract connection, and between the rhythms of the ride, he reaches a trance-like state where there is the revelation of some secrets. He is convinced that this is his solution to his mother’s unhappiness and to solve the core problem of finances.

Paul’s uncle, Oscar, enquires the horse’s name, which Paul is not entirely sure of, and begins to think of champion horse racers of the day. He learned the names through Bassett, the young gardener. Oscar finds out that Paul and Bassett have been placing winning bets according to the names that Paul selects for his toys and is fascinated by this. The two managed to get a private account, and Oscar became the senior partner of this venture and urged Paul by taking him to the racetrack. The boy is excited, and his eyes are like blue fire.

Not all the horses that Paul picks win, but when he confirms that he is absolutely sure, he was not wrong. Oscar is unsure because of the enormous sums, but Paul insists on continuing because he wishes to make his mother happy and cease the household whispers. The racetrack winnings put more money in the household, and the demand for the same increases. Hester is concerned about her son’s behavior and tries to send him to the sea-coast, but Paul insists on being close to the rocking horse till the running of the Derby. He wishes to put all winning in their last bet and accumulate enough money.

Two days before the Derby, Hester and her husband are at a party, and she has a feeling of anxiety for his son. She rushes home and finds Paul in his room, in a frenzy motion on the toy. Paul shouts that it is Malabar and falls off and becomes semi-conscious. Both Oscar and Bassett place bets on Malabar that pay fourteen to one. Paul stays in critical condition for three days and reminisces of moments where Bassett told him that the horse he predicted won, and he would proudly announce to his mother that he brought luck for the house. Paul falls into a  coma and passes away during the night. Oscar notices that the family won a fortune but lost a son. Paul drove himself and put in all his efforts to provide to his mother what she missed.

The Rocking Horse Winner Analysis

The Rocking Horse Winner is focused on a young boy, Paul, who wishes to win money for his mother and manages to do so through his rocking house until he gets into a near-frenzy situation and can predict the names of horse that would win the next big race. He does it many times and wins enormous sums of money for his mother and was urged by his Uncle Oscar, in whom he confided his tricks. Ultimately, he rides his rocking horse in such hysteria that he collapses, and on learning that he won a fortune on his latest bet, he passes away. The story comes with the moral that one must not spend all their energy on attempts to accrue wealth because it will destroy you. 

The Rocking Horse Winner Character Sketch

Paul- He is the protagonist of the story. Paul is a young boy with strange blue eyes and feels emotions so fiercely that they are beyond his control. He understands that his mother does not love him, and it leads to his obsession with luck that would result in financial gain and prove to his mother that he is lucky. He rides his rocking horse until he reaches a maniac-like state where it dawns on him the horses that will win. He wishes to get more money for his mother so that they are no longer whispering about their need for money.

Hester- Paul’s mother, Hester, is a middle-class woman with two other children. She is obsessed with how things look and mainly aims to look wealthier than she is. She is a big believer of luck and believes that she is unlucky because she got married to someone who did not make a lot of money. At the beginning of the story, she is cold towards her children and could not love them, but towards the end, she is genuinely concerned about Paul’s well-being.

Uncle Oscar- Paul’s wealthy and greedy uncle, Uncle Oscar enjoys horse races and uses Paul to make his bets. He urges Paul to give his mother some of his winnings. He valued money over everything else and used his nephew’s strange capabilities for his gains.

Bassett- The gardener at Paul’s House, Bassett is a young man who wounded his foot in the first World War. He is friends with Oscar and talks to Paul about horse racing. He was Paul’s partner in the initial bets. He is a simple man who truly valued Paul and kept his wins safely.

The Rocking Horse Winner Theme

The primary theme that the story is based on is materialism. It powerfully portrays the incompatibility of love and materialism. Happiness cannot be bought with money. As Paul won more, Hester did not become happy but became all the more greedy. Paul was full of generosity, while his family had insatiable greed, so they could not be truly happy.

The Rocking Horse Winner Key Points

A short story by D.H.Lawrence, The Rocking Horse Winner, is a short story that was first published in 1926. The story talks about luck, money, success, and the perils of chasing them and being too invested in them. The story is about a young boy who wishes to win money for his mother by riding his rocking horse.

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