The Rocking Horse Winner

The Rocking Horse Winner, by D. H. Lawrence, is a captivating story of death, devotion, love, luck, wealth, and family. The imagery of sight and sound that Lawrence uses throughout The Rocking Horse Winner is a key factor of the story’s captivating ability to its readers. As a result of the visual imagery Lawrence brings the characters expressions, actions, and state of mind alive to the readers. Lawrence ironically emphasizes imagery of sight and sound, as it ties intricately with the plot of The Rocking Horse Winner.

The Rocking Horse Winner is a fictitious tale of a young boy named Paul who considered himself “lucky.” His mother considers herself unlucky, constantly struggling for money, and lacking of the ability to love her children. She tells Paul that luck is “what causes you to have money. If you’re lucky you have money. That’s why its better to be born lucky than rich. If you’re rich you may lose money. But if you’re lucky, you will always get more money.” Paul felt haunted by his house, its constant whispering and crying for more money, more money. “The children could hear it all the time… when the expensive and splendid toys filled the nursery. Behind the shining modern rocking horse, behind the smart doll’s house, a voice would start whispering: ‘There must be more money! There must be more money!'” This is an excellent example of the auditory and visual imagery that Lawrence used throughout the story. The reader could picture the shining rocking horse and hear the cries for money. What is ironic about Lawrence’s choice to emphasize sight and sound imagery is that sight and sound play a very important role in the developing plot of The Rocking Horse Winner. It is the whispering of his house that Paul hears, which creates his thrive for luck. He would ride his shinning rocking horse until in his mind he saw the winner of the next horse race. Perhaps this is why D. H. Lawrence emphasized the visual and auditory imagery throughout The Rocking Horse Winner.

By using quotes such as “And then the house whispers, like people laughing at you behind your back. It’s awful, that is!” Lawrence relates Paul’s anxiety to the readers on a level easily seen eye to eye with. Lawrence puts great emphasis on eyes in The Rocking Horse Winner. Paul’s eyes were described as “big blue eyes that had an uncanny cold fire in them,” when he spoke of the whispering of his house. Paul was described as, “charging madly into space, with a frenzy that made the little girls peer at him uneasily. Wildly the horse careered, the waving dark hair of the boy tossed, his eyes had a strange glare in them,” as he rode his rocking horse in seek of the next winner. Excellent imagery! A vivid portrayal of Paul’s expression, and intense thought is nearly painted before the readers’ eyes. After Daffodil, the horse Paul predicted to win, won the race, Paul “flushed and with eyes blazing, was curiously serene.” Once again Lawrence emphasized Paul’s eyes. I believe that Lawrence emphasizing eyes and visual imagery is an effective method of relating the theme of The Rocking Horse Winner to the plot since it was what Paul saw when he rode, where his rocking horse brought his mind, which made him lucky.

Like the visual imagery that Lawrence uses in The Rocking Horse Winner, the auditory imagery has intense effects on the reader. “The voices in the house suddenly went mad, like a chorus of frogs on a spring evening… And yet the voices in the house… simply thrilled and screamed a sort of ecstasy: ‘There must be more money! Oh-h-h; there must be more money. Oh, now, now-w! Now-w-w- there must be more money – more than ever! More than ever!'” Wow! Desperation and longing rings through the ear drums of the readers. Not only does this portray what Paul was hearing; a quote of that intensity is something felt deeply, haunting ones insides! With sound imagery like this, Lawrence sends The Rocking Horse Winner crying out to its audience.

The Rocking Horse Winner, by D. H. Lawrence, captivates its readers through its intense imagery of sound and sight. Through this imagery Lawrence portrays the mood of the characters, the predicaments, the emphasis of a situation’s intensity, and entwines the theme of the story with the plot. The Rocking Horse Winner was later made into a movie, yet I question how necessary that was. The Rocking Horse Winner was so vibrant in audio and visual imagery I believe that my mind produced the movie on its own.

By Stacy Ann Padula 2001


Published by Author Stacy A. Padula

Stacy Padula has spent the last 14 years working daily with teenagers as a college counselor, mentor, and life coach. She was named "Top Inspirational Author of the Year" for 2022 by the International Association of Top Professionals (New York, NY). In 2021, she was broadcast on the famous Reuters Building in Times Square as "Empowered Woman of the Year." Her Gripped book series is currently being adapted for TV by Emmy-winning producer Mark Blutman. She is the founder and CEO of Briley & Baxter Publications: a publishing company that donates a portion of its proceeds to animal rescues each month. She has edited and published a variety of titles, including Boston Bruins Anthem Singer Todd Angilly and Rachel Goguen's The Adventures of Owen & the Anthem Singer, LaTonya Pinkard of Netflix's Last Chance U's Nate & His Magic Lion, and former NHL player Norm Beaudin's memoir The Original: Living Life Through Hockey. Stacy resides in Plymouth, Massachusetts with her husband Tim and two miniature dachshunds, Briley and Baxter.

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