In the short story “ The Rocking Horse Winner”, the characters jeopardize their happiness by mistaking it to be equal to money and luck. The writer, D.H. Lawrence uses a distinct approach to his writing to show the damaging and unexpected trail taken which leads to the compromised happiness of the family and the death of the son, Paul.
Material possessions are more important to them than family, but people on the outside do not see it that way. The mother is known to be loving, but never actually shows it. “Everybody else said to her: ‘She adores her children.’ Only she herself, and her children themselves, knew it was not so. They read it in each other’s eyes.” The family is not happy and loving with each other even though it looks that way. The family tries to live lavishly but cannot afford it. “There was never enough money. The mother had a small income, and the father had a small income, but not nearly enough for the social position which they had to keep up.”
Since the family cannot afford their way of life, what the mother does plagues her children who feel the need for money all of the time. Near the end of the story his nephew is on his deathbed and Uncle Oscar seems to care less. Oscar’s main concern is not with his nephew. He is selfish, “And in spite of himself, Oscar Creswell spoke to Bassett, and himself put a thousand on Malabar: at fourteen to one.” Uncle Oscar does not hesitate one bit in placing a bet on the winning horse even though he witnessed his nephews condition first hand. His obsession on money and his greed blind him. Although one of his closest family members is seconds away from dying, all his mind can think about is earning his profit. The way a happy family is perceived goes against the reality of the constant need for money.
This family depends heavily on luck because they struggle financially. It gives them the chance to make more money and have a better life. No matter how much money they make, there will always be a need for more. “If you’re lucky, you have money. That’s why it’s better to be born lucky than rich. If you’re rich, you may lose your money. But if you’re lucky, you will always get more money.” In this conversation with his mother, Paul finds out why they are the “poor members of the family.” She blames it on the fact that his “father has no luck.” The children discover a hidden presence in the house in connection to the need for more money. “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.” In the story, the families whole life revolves around money. The need is so great that even the house yearns for it. The children learn from their mother that money is the most important thing in life. In desperation to win his mothers love, Paul declares that he is lucky. ” ‘Well, anyhow,’ he said stoutly, ‘I’m a lucky person.’”. “The boy saw she did not believe him; or, rather, that she paid no attention to his assertion. This angered him somewhat, and made him want to compel her attention.” Maybe because of his determination and obsession he is able to ride his rocking horse and predict the name of the winners in the horse races. The only things the family cares for is money and their possessions.
Paul’s desire to make his mother happy leads him to make money, but it also leads him to his death. Paul and his siblings are constantly haunted by the requirement of more money. “And the children would stop playing, to listen for a moment. They would look into each other’s eyes, to see if they all heard. And each one saw in the eyes of the other two that they too had heard. ‘ There must be more money! There must be more money!’” Three children were upset by issues that they shouldn’t have to be concerned about. After winning a generous amount of money, Paul sets up the money so his mother shall receive a thousand pounds every year for her birthday, for the next five years. “She went away to town without saying more. But in the afternoon Uncle Oscar appeared. He said Paul’s mother had had a long interview with the lawyer, asking if the whole five thousand could not be advanced at once, as she was in debt.”
Even though it is put so she only gets a certain amount at a time, she tries to get it all at once. Since Paul only wants to please his mother he lets her have it. The rocking horse contradicts the gambling with the race horses. “ ‘I’ve got to know for the Derby! I’ve got to know for the Derby!’ the children reiterated, his big blue eyes blazing with a sort of madness.” Paul starts off just being a child and playing on his rocking horse but ends up getting addicted to gambling on race horses. His uncle and the gardner use Paul to bet on the horses, even when he is dying. even though Paul ends up knowing what he wanted at the end of his ride, he is overwhelmed by the exploitation of his family and dies.
Paul’s death is an ironic end to an innocent chase for what he thought was happiness. A little boy’s attempt to achieve affection from his mother shows the unexpected, as he rides his rocking horse to money but then also to his death. Even on Paul’s deathbed, what his uncle says to his mother shows the irony. The irony is that Uncle Oscar implies that Paul is better off dead because he realized that Paul was crazy and he is now free because he is dead. “My God, Hester, you’re eighty-thousand to good, and a poor devil of a son to the bad. But, poor devil, poor devil, he’s best gone out of a life where he rides his rocking-horse to find a winner.”