'The Rocking-Horse Winner' by D.H. Lawrence is a shockingly disturbing tale of materialism, wealth, and a mother's absent affection for her children. The family in the story is constantly lured by the sweet temptation of sin. Although the story doesn't directly speak about religion, it is obvious that the family is Christian from the references to Christmas (481) and to God (482). In this story, Lawrence depicts several of the most devious sins of mankind according to religious, particularly Christian, doctrine: greed, sexual deviance, and gambling. The theme of sin is subtly interwoven throughout the short tale by the representations and portrayals of these acts, and Lawrence also makes it clear that all of these transgressions inevitably end in devastation.
The story opens with a description of the mother, Hester, a woman who ?knew that at the center of her heart was a hard little place that could not feel love, no, not for anybody? (481), not even for her son, Paul, or her two daughters. The most pressing predicament for the family, however, is not Hester?s indifference but ?the grinding sense of the shortage of money? (481), despite the palpable clues that the family is in fact quite wealthy. This problem is so intense that the house itself ?came to be haunted by the unspoken phrase: There must be more money! There must be more money!? (481). The house and its sinister, ever-present whispering serves to represent the sin of greed, or ?an excessive desire to acquire or possess more that what one needs or deserves? (dictionary.com).
The nature of greed seems to be that the more one has, the more one wants, and in the case of ?The Rocking-Horse Winn...
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...at God is in objection to the various sins portrayed in ?The Rocking-Horse Winner?, but is Lawrence? This story can be interpreted as a sort of warning to potential sinners, of the dangers that await them if they fail to resist such indulgences. Nevertheless, Lawrence is realistic enough to acknowledge the difficulties of such restraint, and admits within the story that sin can often be unstoppable, and can reach even the most devout of worshipers. ?The Rocking-Horse Winner? is a strong message about the nature of greed, the evils of self-gratification, and the dangers of gambling: all three are sinful acts that lead to devastating consequences, such as madness, ruin, and in this most extreme of cases, death.
Lawrence, D.H. ?The Rocking-Horse Winner? A Pocketful of Prose: Vintage Short Fiction. E.D.
David Madden. Boston: Heinle, 1992. 1-13.
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