58 pages 1 hour read

D. H. Lawrence

The Rocking Horse Winner

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1926

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Character Analysis


Even though the first seven paragraphs of “The Rocking Horse Winner” focus on his mother, Paul is the protagonist and dominates this story. Paul unconsciously attempts to fill the place of the man dismissed from the mother’s life, the luckless husband. Paul will prove that he has luck, for God told him. When the mother ignores his claim, he becomes angry and determined “to compel her attention” (Paragraph 40). With his whip, he beats the rocking horse that charges, careers, snorts in response to Paul’s mad, frenzied, wild ride to force it to take him to “where there is luck!” (Paragraph 43).

Paul gets “there” through riding the horse, an act of masturbation Paul pursues with passion. The names of the winning horses that come to Paul—undoubtedly mentioned by his betting partner, Bassett, who talks the horse races with Paul—appear to come out of nowhere. This inner light of intuition climaxes at the conclusion of the rides. The sexual act links to “luck.” He and Bassett discover the horses whose names erupt from the rides are winners, empowering him to win thousands of pounds.

When Paul first presents his mother with £1,000 a year on her birthday for five consecutive years, she uses the gift only to demand more, all of it at once.