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In “The Rocking Horse-Winner,” Does the Protagonist, Paul, Receive a Sense of Love, Satisfaction, and Security With His Single Pursuit of Money?

“The Rocking Horse Winner” is an elaborate short story by D.H. Lawrence, perhaps the best, about an awful pursuit of material wealth and destructive greed. This story occurred after World War I in England and is the story of a boy, Paul, who seeks his mother’s love through racing horses. The story is rich with symbolism, notably featuring the rocking horse, which symbolizes the connection between Paul and the supernatural forces he believes will afford him material success. Nevertheless, much as he strives relentlessly in what can be termed an imaginary effort to amass, so to speak, the wealth that can never erase the pain, lacking love, satiation, and security, the paper argues that although he is pursuing wealth, which will secure him some financial stability in this broken family situation, Paul fails to achieve the emotional satisfaction and balance he desperately desires.

The Obsession with Luck and Money

Paul’s insatiable desire to win his mother’s affection propels his boundless chase for money. Confined to a home in which affection is predicated on economic success, Paul concludes that the way and means of earning love from his mother are to accumulate wealth. His mother, who is materialistic and remains dissatisfied, complains about financial problems daily, so love is assumed to be a guarantor of actual material achievement. Paul internalizes one of its forms, which serves as the foundation for the futile and one-way monadic search for financial security. The story shows a gruesome dissecting of the mental abuse of a child helplessly forced to substitute love with material possessions, as explained by Maissa when she states, “He discovers that he has a unique talent for picking the winning horses in races, which he attributes to the help of a rocking horse that he rides in a frenzy until he reaches a state of heightened consciousness (Maissa 24). The rocking horse emerges as a powerful figure, representing Paul’s desperate, pathetic attempts to fill the chasm—the substantial emotional void—in his family. The horse acts as the conduit between the world of reality and the world of the supernatural; it is the bridge Paul crosses to believe in his luck, hence his pursuit of the winner of luck, the elusive mythical beast. This continuous swaying signifies his irrepressible quest for business rewards, being dazedly guided by the nonsense of how fortune, conducted through the horse—personified by the yearning to get mother’s love—is the conductor of riches. Paul’s total concern for money affects him physically and mentally in a negative way. His constant trips on the rocking horse bring him near the brink of collapse; it illustrates the bodily counterpart of his obsession. Additionally, the story suggests that Paul experienced some insanity as a result of this pursuit of money. This fixation introduced plenty, far exceeding simple pain that illustrates an act of death, heightened on fulfillment, impoverished on emotional well-being.

Lack of love and connection

The story emphasizes the delicate relationship between Paul and his mother, Hester. Hester appears like one whose love was conditioned on prosperity. Certainly, one of the tensions is sensed in their tranquil domestic life, as evidenced when Lawrence states, “Everybody else said of her: “She is such a good mother. She adores her children.” Only she herself, and her children themselves, knew it was not so. They read it in each other’s eyes.” Yes, Paul does his utmost, and she cannot transfer his devotion to her affection in monetary terms, strengthening their relationship’s emotional block (DeLia 133). Hester’s more profound discontent, intertwined with the eternal craving for more, becomes fatal because Paul is swallowed up in a bit of dream love he cannot reach.

Hester is a character who shows a materialistic attitude that has taken her away from the possibility of reflecting on love, and instead, she is focused on material wealth. Someone else may try to say that she does not listen to her son, but when it comes to wealth, she does not consider what others feel. Monetary success leaves her without satisfaction, hence being emotionless; this emotional emptiness leaves a void in the family (Gelal 6). Hester’s character can be used as an oppressing critique shown to us through a culture that valued more relentless importance in the richness within men and gold than what was meant to end in showing too many exposed connections with humans and connections to true dedication.

Rationally, though Paul makes money by proving himself successful, he leads a hollow life. No matter how much he accumulates wealth, it does not bring him peace or strong ties with his family. Ironically, the story implies that protecting one’s mind from starvation through financial hoarding does not restore one’s stoned heart and that material success does not equate to love or emotional fulfillment. A life devoid of grace and the spark created by interpersonal interaction turns out to be the cannon shot that drives Paul from Mendoza.

Unsustainable Pursuit

Paul goes all the way to satisfy his mother’s insatiable desires, leading him to increase his effort and resources to chase riches. The story reveals a vicious circle in which a triumphant profit only fuels Hester’s lust for even greater conquests. Desperate for material wealth, the mother ties Paul into a tangle of rising stakes and heights of expectations he struggles to fulfill. Even though it has brought Paul financial gain, his pleasure is temporary and fleeting. However, every victory in the horse race gives a short breathing spell from the permanent hunt. The story implies that Paul works only to make money, which only provides him with momentary gratifications, and could never fulfill his inner being, his pain within. The story focuses on the paradox where, in the hunt for more riches, the joy that arises from the triumph evaporates and is incapable of constant peace.

The Illusion of Security

The fact that Paul makes enormous profits and is completely safe from such a threat gives his family the illusion of security, which is fundamentally false. The influx of wealth provides temporary financial relief that returns the environment to stasis. However, it is an imaginary safety linked to the concept of luck and the unstable realm of horse racing. Nevertheless, the story focuses on the fact that such a desperate fortune cannot indicate security within the family.

Paul’s fiancé’s success in a financial manner temporarily resolves the shallow problems of money, but it does not mean that they cannot remedy the more fundamental burden of the family. The story portrays that the goal of money is nothing more than some superficial change driven deep into the depths of family bonds (Lawrence). The irony is, however, that lack of feeling cannot be combated through lack of money when the ones that are not adequately feeling lack an emotional response, straining their relationships, and, most fundamentally, cannot understand or have ‘connectivity’ in the familial setting.

Alternative Sources of Love, Satisfaction, and Security

The narrative differs from the worthless way Paul pursues money, whereas the narrative asks for attention to the subvention that makes life worth living. It underscores the essential human need for genuine relationships and mental health as integral elements of a good life, surpassing the transient illusory of riches. Aiming at interpreting the transience of love, satisfaction, and protection from meaningless relationships, as well as caring for others and emotional liberty, is essential rather than accumulating money. The main character’s tragic voyage is a moral lesson—the lesson of well-being, for all the material that is given is temporary. The implication is that a broader yet more compassionate treatment that uses emotional connections and contentment with one’s lonesome self could allow for a truly liberated and sheltered life, as far as from the objectively oriented pursuit of economic prominence in Paul’s whimsical fable.


The Rocking-Horse Winner speaks to the destructive power of Paul’s constant drive for wealth as he attempts to compensate for the emptiness in his life while trying to fulfill the futile, contradictory demands of a shattered family. While Paul may be superficially successful, the fundamental dispute is that he does not achieve absolute satisfaction. The lesson here is much bigger and works as an overarching narrative to demonstrate that it is wrong to believe that physical victory will ultimately triumph over genuine emotions. It highlights the pointlessness of equating riches with genuine happiness, emphasizing the significance of sustainable connections, psychological well-being, and verifiable satisfaction. The story’s moral challenges the generally adopted societal beliefs founded on overestimating the material realized or potential. It calls on readers to reconsider their approaches and consider the human values that may be compared with the short-term potential of money. Finally, “The Rocking Horse Winner” is instead a statement of sadness, which is evoked by the destructive power of obsessive greed that blinds a man from the ability to make himself happy and, therefore, obtain fulfillment and contentment, which many look for in pursuit of material satisfaction.

Works Cited

Delia, Demetria. “Bridled Rage: Preoedipal Theory and ‘The Rocking-Horse Winner.'” The D.H. Lawrence Review, vol. 41, no. 2, 2016, pp. 128–44.

Gelal, Prativa. Women’s Constricted Space in Lawrence’s” The Rocking Horse Winner” and” Odour of Chrysanthemums.” Diss. Department of English, 2017.

Lawrence, David H., “The Rocking Horse Winner.” Classic Short Stories,

Maissa, Bouguettaia, Mazari Amani, and Bahri Fouzia. The Representation of Social Class Conflict in The Necklace and The Rocking Horse. Diss. Kasdi Merbah Ouargla University, 2023.


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