58 pages 1 hour read

D. H. Lawrence

The Rocking Horse Winner

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1926

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The Unhealthy Relational Dynamic of Emotional Incest

Lawrence, knowledgeable about Freud, Oedipus, and incest, writes about it in his fiction experientially. Sons and Lovers was initially entitled Paul Morel after the novel’s protagonist, who shares his name with the son in “The Rocking Horse Winner.” As soon as there is a parent and child, there is the potential for love to be directed in an unhealthy way. Lawrence’s novel Women in Love portrays the author’s most famous model of “healthy” love: when a man and woman can achieve “star equilibrium” in a love relationship where the sexuality of the feminine and the masculine are in balance and meet in polar orbits around each other as a positive nexus. This requires two adults.

That cannot happen in “The Rocking Horse Winner.” The story features a young boy who moves into adolescence, graduating from the nursery to the dinner table and removing his rocking horse from the playroom he shares with his sisters to the confines of his bedroom. Too self-absorbed to be aware of her children (except to know she does not love them), the mother confides her dissatisfaction with her life to a small child. She long ago dismissed her husband as a love object.