Paul’s Mother in “Rocking Horse Winner” by Lawrence
|Method||Textual Support||What personality traits do you see?||How does the trait support help illustrate the conflicts and theme?|
|Speech||“It’s what causes you to have money. 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” (Lawrence par. 18).||Materialistic, greedy, pessimistic||The theme of materialism in the short story is illustrated by the quote because Hester believes that money is the most important thing in the world. She wants to have more money, which makes the meaning of her life.|
|Thought||“Only she herself knew that at the center of her heart was a hard little place that could not feel love, no, not for anybody” (Lawrence par. 1).||Cold-hearted, indifferent, and selfish||The mother feels no sincere love toward her children; she is utterly unhappy because she believes she is unlucky due to the continuous lack of money.|
|Effect on others||Paul’s words: “I shouldn’t like a mother to know I was lucky” (Lawrence par. 160).||Skeptic, pessimistic||This quote illustrates the way Paul perceives his mother as a non-believer who would stop him from predicting the winners because she does not want to change her beliefs.|
|Actions||“She worked secretly in the studio of a friend who was the chief ‘artist’ for the leading drapers. She drew the figures of ladies in furs and ladies in silk and sequins for the newspaper advertisements” (Lawrence par. 169).||Insincere, secretive, unconfident||Since the mother practiced her hobby in secrecy, her actions demonstrate her fear of failing, her insincere heart, and the lack of ability to succeed at anything due to her obsession with being unlucky.|
|Looks||“As his mother read it, her face hardened and became more expressionless” (Lawrence par. 170).||Indifference, inexpressiveness||The mother’s looks express her stiffness and inability to experience positive emotions. She is limited to her negativity and indifference, which ultimately leads to the death of her son.|
Paul’s mother, Hester, in Lawrence’s short story “Rocking Horse Winner,” is a character that drives the plot and serves as a basis for unveiling the theme of the dominance of materialistic values in society. Hester is materialistic, greedy, and pessimistic, which is evident from her worldview limited by obtaining money. Her speech illustrates this idea when she explains that “If you’re rich, you may lose your money. But if you’re lucky, you will always get more money” (Lawrence par. 18). Being lucky enough to have more money is the meaning of her life.
The way Hester thinks also reflects her character as a cold-hearted, indifferent, and selfish one. It is most vividly observed in the way she thinks about her children. Lawrence states that “only she herself knew that at the center of her heart was a hard little place that could not feel love, no, not for anybody” (par. 1). She is constantly obsessed with money and cannot enjoy simple life things.
Similarly, the way she is perceived by other characters demonstrates her traits of skepticism and pessimism. Paul did not want Hester to know he was lucky because he was afraid of her disapproval. Paul is opposed to Hester in his ability to live life to its fullest.
Importantly, the character’s actions demonstrate her insincere, secretive life, as well as lacking confidence in her ability to be successful. She “worked secretly in the studio of a friend” (Lawrence par. 169) to hide her attempts that might fail. It illustrates her obsession with the concept of luck, which obstructs her ability to live a happy life.
Finally, Hester’s looks and facial expressions illustrate her stiffness, cold-heartedness, and indifference. When receiving a letter about the money she was entitled to, “her face hardened and became more expressionless” (Lawrence par. 170). This element illustrates that she is fully submerged in negativity and indifference, which her son wanted to change but tragically failed.
Lawrence, David Herbert. “The Rocking-Horse Winner.” The Short Story Project. Web.