58 pages 1 hour read

D. H. Lawrence

The Rocking Horse Winner

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1926

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Important Quotes

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“There was a woman who was beautiful, who started with all of the advantages, yet she had no luck. She married for love, and the love turned to dust. She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them. They looked at her coldly, as if they were finding fault with her. And hurriedly she felt she must cover up some fault in herself. Yet what it was that she must cover up she never knew. Nevertheless, when her children were present, she always felt the centre of her heart go hard.”

(Paragraph 1)

This opening for the story establishes the structure as a quest fable. Unlike a typical fable, however, beauty and love elude her: her marriage loveless, her children unloved and unloving, and her heart cold and hard. The lack of “luck” permeating the story and driving the action anticipates the fruitlessness of the quest.

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“They lived in a pleasant house, with a garden, and they had discreet servants, and felt themselves superior to anyone in the neighbourhood. Although they lived in style, they felt always an anxiety in the house. There was never enough money.”

(Paragraphs 2-3)

The illusion of grandeur drives this pretentious family. No matter how much they have, it will never be enough. The house projects the mother’s mental and emotional state that molds the attitude of the inhabitants.

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“And so the house came to be haunted by the unspoken phrase: There must be more money! There must be more money! The children could hear it all the time though nobody said it aloud.”

(Paragraph 5)

The reader knows the story’s characters as much by the unsaid as by the said. The mother’s narcissistic self-deception, for the fear it inspires, prevents the known from being articulated. Truth must not be spoken, for that would make it real.