The Rocking-Horse Winner (Lawrence)
Wouldn't it be nice to be rich, even if that wealth came at the cost of other things? If you answered yes, here's another question: what if that cost was your life? D. H. Lawrence's short story "The Rocking-Horse Winner" tells the story of young Paul, who brings in the dough for his family by predicting the outcomes of horse races—for the ultimate price.
|Author||Lawrence - D. H. Lawrence|
You didn't think all those diapers and cartons of baby formula were free, did you?
Okay, so you likely won't get a bill on your 18th birthday for "services rendered" from
your parental units.
But still... if you had a foolproof way to make gobs of money, it would be nice to send
a little green their way. The Hero of D.H. Lawrence's short story The
Rocking Horse Winner finds himself in this very situation.
By riding his rocking-horse, Paul achieves a Zen-like state that allows him to accurately
predict the winners of horse races.
His mother takes advantage of this situation, and before long, the family is rolling in
it. Unfortunately, Paul's gift is killing him.
Which makes us wonder... is what Paul has really a "gift" at all?
Well, there's no denying the good that comes from it.
He and his loved ones no longer have to worry about money. They're not going to go hungry,
or lose the roof over their heads.
Plus, they can now switch to the three-at-a-time Netflix plan.
So, in that sense... sure seems like a gift to us.
But... Paul dies as a result of it.
Most gifts don't come with the possibility of death.
Not unless you have a friend who likes to give trick chainsaws for birthday presents.
So on second thought... maybe this is one ability Paul wouldn't mind... regifting.
Although... he didn't have to abuse his special talent.
If he hadn't exhibited greed, or at least let his mother's greed guilt him into overdoing
...he'd probably still be alive today, rocking away on his horse and making a comfortable
profit at the track every other weekend. Many of us have certain innate abilities...
...but if we practice them to excess, it can cause more harm than good.
For example, someone might be naturally brilliant on the trumpet...
...but if he plays every night into the wee hours, his fed-up neighbor might one day burst
into his apartment and shove that trumpet where the sun don't shine.
Was Paul's gift really a gift?
Is the fact that it brought his family wealth all that's important?
Was his ultimate demise proof that there's really no such thing as a "gift?"
Or should he just have handled it a little more maturely instead of spending so much
time... horsing around? Shmoop amongst yourselves.