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The Rocking-Horse Winner

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “The Rocking-Horse Winner” (1926) by D.H. Lawrence. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it. 

David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930) was an English writer. Some of his most famous novels include Sons and Lovers and Lady Chatterley's Lover, where Lawrence explores life in an industrial setting. The short story “The Rocking-Horse Winner” was published in 1926 in Harper's Bazaar and was made into several films.

Extract

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Social setting

The short story’s social setting looks at the family’s financial issues and poor money management. The family’s financial problems result from Hester and her husband’s inability to live in accordance with their income. They have expensive tastes and are used to live “in style”, and are keen on maintaining the appearance of a higher social position. Consequently, the family becomes indebted. 

When Hester comes into the possession of five thousand pounds, she is greedy and does not use it to pay the debts. Instead, because of her poor money management skills, she indulges in unnecessary luxuries. 

The social setting also briefly hints at the condition of women who need financial independence and freedom. Hester “tried this thing and the other” to gain more money. Eventually, she started working in a friend’s studio, where she “drew the figures of ladies in furs and ladies in silk and sequins for the newspaper advertisements”. This shows that Hester needs to have a separate identity and detach from her house, where she is just a mother and a wife. 

 

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The Rocking-Horse Winner

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