Chapter Writing: What is the Meaning of the Rockinghorse Winner

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[. . .] When the two girls were playing dolls in the nursery, he would sit on his big rocking-horse, charging madly into space, with a frenzy that made the little girls peer at him uneasily” (Lawrence). Lawrence uses this frenetic tone to emphasize the desire that the boy has to achieve this luck that his mother so badly misses. He uses this imagery to put the reader into the boy’s shoes, to feel the boy is feeling in his heart and mind.

When Uncle Oscar takes the boy to the track and the boy wins, he pledges to give his winnings to his mother: “She said she had no luck, because father is unlucky, so I thought if I was lucky, it might stop whispering.” “What might stop whispering?” “Our house. I hate our house for whispering” (Lawrence). Lawrence thus uses dialogue to reveal the secrets of the boy’s heart. That which he suggests in description in the opening of the narrative is made explicit through the actions of the child and his discourse with his uncle.

When the boy makes his final race, Lawrence drives home the aching irony at the heart of the story—the fact that all that the boy ever really wanted was to show his mother that he was lucky, the one thing he’d been trying to tell her all along. He doesn’t say why he’s lucky. Of course, he implies that it is because he can ride his horse to victory so that Oscar wins at the race track—but that is not really why he is lucky. He was lucky before he could do that—and he knew it. He was lucky because he had a mother and a father and a family and a house over all their heads. He was lucky because love had brought him into existence—and that irony is that love also takes him out of existence in the finite world: his love for her breaks his body. His ride on the horse is so intense that he cannot go any longer in this world. His love burns so brightly and passionately that all his strength is literally consumed by it. He bursts at the end of the story, hearing that once again his riding has been victorious, and announces: “I never told you, mother, that if I can ride my horse, and get there, then I'm absolutely sure - oh, absolutely! Mother, did I ever tell you? I am lucky!” and the mother answers, “No, you never did,” (Lawrence). But of course he has told her that he is lucky—she just did not hear him.

And now it is too late. The boy dies from exertion and she is left with the winnings—the earnings of all his endeavors. The love that she once shared with her husband, the love that resulted in the creation of her child, is now removed from the house that cared only for money. Lawrence’s ultimate meaning is that the mother was missing real luck when it was right under her nose. She saw it, saw her children, but did not see that they were yearning for a reflection in her eyes of the love they felt within themselves. They burned brightly, and he, the boy, burned most brightly of all. He burned for her—and wanted to make her happy so that the haunted voices of the home, the whispers, the complaints would stop. He wanted his mother to be beautiful, to be free of the lines of worry that caused her mouth to droop. He wanted peace—and in the end his desire is granted. And the mother is left with the realization, the face to face fact that it was her child all along that made her lucky. She was just too busy looking for it elsewhere—in things, in possessions, in appearances, in money. In bringing home the final winner, the boy finally exorcises the house of its ghosts—and leaves with them.

Works Cited

Lawrence, D. H. “The Rockinghorse Winner.”

http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/rockwinr.html

Snodgrass, W. D. “A Rocking-Horse: The Symbol, the Pattern, the Way to Live.” The

Hudson Review 11.2. (1958): 191-200. [END OF PREVIEW]

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