The Rocking-Horse Winner Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 17 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Rocking-Horse Winner.
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The Rocking-Horse Winner Summary & Study Guide Description

The Rocking-Horse Winner Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Rocking-Horse Winner by D. H. Lawrence.

The Rocking Horse Winner by D.H Lawrence is a short story about a mother who regret marrying for love instead of money. Her oldest child Paul senses her misery and with the help of his uncle and the gardener Barrett, places and wins bets on the horses. His secret is his wooden rocking horse, which has the power to tell him the winner of each race.

This story is about a beautiful woman who marries for love, but soon finds their relationship disintegrating. Children only make matters worse. She showers them from attention and from an outsider's point of view, it looks like she loves them very much. However, she and the children know it is only a pretense.

As a young woman, the mother was used to living in luxury and she still tries to give people the impression that she and her husband are rich. She buys the children all the best toys and hires a nanny to look after them and servants to maintain the house. Unfortunately, her spending has put the family deeply in debt. At night, the children can hear the house murmur about how much it needs money.

One of the toys in the nursery is an old rocking horse. Paul, the oldest child, loves the horse and rides it so violently and so intensely, that he scares his older sisters.

One day Paul asks his mother why they don't own a car. She tells him that it is because they don't have money and wants to leave it there, but she has piqued Paul's interest. He asks her why and she says it is because his father has no luck. Paul, detecting her sadness, tells her that he has lots of luck. God, he says, gave it to him.

Paul is riding his wooden rocking horse with typical fervor when his uncle Oscar and Paul's mother enter the nursery. Oscar is impressed. He loves horse racing and sees his nephew shares his passion. More impressive however is Paul's knowledge. Questioning him further, Oscar finds out he talks about racing with the gardener Barrett. Oscar visits Barrett to find out more, but Barrett politely refuses to enlighten him. He tells him that Paul has an unusual gift when it comes to horses, but telling him more would let down the child.

Oscar invites Paul to the Lincoln races. Against his Uncle's advice, Paul bets on a horse called Daffodil and to his uncle's surprise, the horse, a rank outsider, comes in first. It is not the last time he is surprised that day. After the race he finds out Paul has not only guessed winners before, but in partnership with Barrett, has won about 1500 pounds. Upon further investigation, he finds out Paul won the money for his mother.

On Paul's wishes, his uncle gives the family lawyer 5,000 pounds of Paul's winnings with the request that the lawyer sends Paul's mother 1000 pounds every year on her birthday.

If Paul was expecting his mother to be ecstatic, when she receives the money, he is sorely disappointed. As soon as she reads the note that she will receive 1000 pounds for her birthday for the next five years, she goes straight to the lawyer to ask him to release the whole 5000 immediately.

Over the next few months, the money changes Paul's life. His mother pays a private teacher to teach him and arranges for him to go to Eton the following year. For the house, she buys new furniture and luxuries such as flowers in the winter. Yet still Paul can hear the house murmuring. "We need more money," it says. "We need more money."

With the Derby race approaching, Paul becomes ill with worry since he is still uncertain of the winner. To be certain he has to ride on his rocking horse until the winner comes into his mind, but that as not as easy as it sounds and as of yet nothing has happened. Paul's mother, worried for his health, suggests he visits the seaside. Paul refuses. He tells her he is not going anywhere until after the Derby.

One night, Paul's mother goes out to a dinner party. She tries to enjoy herself, but she can't help worrying about her son. Something is wrong with him. She phones their nanny to inquire, but the nanny is adamant that he is fine.

That calms her down until she arrives home. Going up to Paul room, she hears him, riding passionately on his rocking horse. When she enters, he begins to scream "Malabar, Malabar!" before falling to the floor unconscious.

Paul lays in his room unconscious for days. His mother is worried sick. Eventually she calls in Barrett to see if his presence will have an effect. It does so immediately. As soon as Barrett tells Paul that Malabar won the Derby, Paul wakes up in delight. Turning to his mother, he tells he told he was lucky since he has won her 80,0000 pounds.

That same night, Paul dies in his sleep.

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