The man that
does not know sick women does not know women.
- S. Weir
Horse Winner? is the story of a boy?s gift for picking the winners in
horse races. An omniscient narrator relates the tale of a boy whose
family is always short of money. His mother is incapable of showing
love and is obsessed with the status that material wealth can
provide. This paper will explore the premise that D.H. Lawrence
presented the figure of the mother as the villain; a loathsome,
unloving character with no commitment to genuine values. This evil
mother figure will ultimately be the ?male-destroyer? by turning her
?nameless? husband away and, in essence, killing her young son, Paul.
mother, is incapable of loving others. ?Only she herself knew that at
the center of her heart was a hard little place that could feel no
love, no, not for anybody./ Only she herself, and her children
themselves, knew. They read it in each other?s eyes.? (RHW) The
mother is not only obsessed with money, but she is also irresponsible
with the money she does get. When Paul arranges through his attorney
to give her a thousand pounds a month from his winnings, she
immediately begs for the entire amount. However, instead of paying
her debts, she spends the money on new things for the house. This
results in an even greater need for more money. She also does not
express any thanks for this sudden windfall, depriving Paul of the
joy of providing the much-needed income for his family. ?She was down
to breakfast on the morning of her birthday. Paul watched her as she
read her letters. He knew the lawyer?s letter. As his mother read it,
her face hardened and became more expressionless. Then a cold and
determined look came on her mouth.? (RHW) The vivid description of
the mother?s face hardening and her look, a cold one, is
characteristic of a villainous woman- the femme-fatale. Paul asked
her if she has received anything nice in the mail for her birthday.
The mother responds in a cold and absent voice. Then ?went away to
town without saying more.? (RHW) This coldness of heart, the neglect
of her son, the villainous qualities that run throughout the story
will ultimately be the cause of Paul?s untimely death.
Although at the
end of the story Hester becomes increasingly concerned about Paul?s
deteriorating health, she still does not love him, even when he dies.
At the beginning of the story, it is stated that ?at the center of
her heart was a hard little place that could feel no love, no, not
for anybody.? This image is repeated at the end of the story, when
Hester sits by her son?s bedside ?feeling her heart had gone, turned
actually into a stone.? Every fairy tale, myth, or cartoon I can
remember from my youth, all had people turning into stone when their
eyes have feasted upon the wicked witch or possessed being. Hester?s
heart turns into a stone because she embodies the wicked witch, the
one who has the power to turn others into stone; to kill them with an
inner selfishness and neglectful tendencies. She does eventually
succeed in her villainous attempts by turning her son Paul into stone
when he dies at the end still trying to make his mother happy with
Before he dies
Paul asks, ?Mother, did I ever tell you? I?m lucky,? she responds,
?no, you never did.? However, the reader remembers that Paul did,
indeed, tell her that he was lucky earlier in the story. Since she
pays little attention to him, she does not remember this. In fact,
this earlier conversation that Paul has with his mother is a pivotal
part of the story. Paul senses his mother?s ?cold heart? and tries in
some way to reach her.
don?t we keep a car of our own? Why do we always use uncle?s, or else
the poor members of the family,? said the mother.
?But why are we,
suppose,? she said slowly and bitterly, ?it?s because your father has
?Is luck money,
mother?? he asked, rather timidly.
?No, Paul! Not
quite. It?s what causes you to have money.?/ It?s what causes you to
have money. If your 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 your lucky, you will always get more money.?
?And is father
?Very unlucky, I
should say,? she said bitterly? ?I married an unlucky husband.?
anyhow,? he said stoutly, ?I?m a lucky person.?
?Why?? said his
mother, with a sudden laugh.
He stared at
her. He didn?t even know why he had said it. ?God told me,? he
asserted, brazening it out.
?I hope He did,
dear!? she said, again with a laugh, but rather bitter.
I can?t imagine
what impact an exchange like this one might have on a young child.
The reader can only feel sympathy for this confused, misdirected boy;
his mother?s words again bitter and cold. He learns through this
conversation that luck is money, so he uses his luck to try and give
her happiness. But as he finds out, she is like a fungus that
destroys the things that giver her ?life.? His uncle is right, ?he?s
best gone out of a life where he rides his rocking horse to find a
winner.? The fact that she does not remember this conversation when
Paul asks her about it at the end of the story, furthermore affirms
the mother?s selfishness and unloving nature. When a parent stops
paying attention to her children, the family is doomed.
finally receives the financial fortune she has always wanted but
loses her son in the process, the reader realizes that Hester will
probably not feel the loss of her son and will probably waste all
that money in record time. All of these details show Hester to be
cold, unfeeling, wasteful, and shallow.
contrasts the personality of the villainous mother in the story by
creating very attractive and likable male characters. Bassett is the
family gardener who helps Paul place bets on horses. He takes the boy
seriously and follows all the boy?s instructions in placing the bets.
He also keeps Paul?s money safely hidden away. He is the only adult
who treats Paul with a serious respect. It is Bassett?s seriousness
that convinces Uncle Oscar that Paul?s gift for picking winners is
real. He is trustworthy and kind, but he is also a servant, so once
Uncle Oscar takes over, he respectfully withdraws from the action.
while not the most virtuous of characters, can still be seen as a
character who helps Paul, not hinders him. He is the one who arranges
for Hester to receive the money from Paul?s earnings, as per Paul?s
request. In an exchange between Paul and Oscar, it is apparent that
Paul does not want his mother to know where the money is coming from
and just how luck he is, Uncle Oscar abides by all of Paul?s wishes.
?I don?t want
her to know, uncle.?
?All right, son!
We?ll manage it without her knowing.?
They managed it
very easily. Paul handed over five thousand pounds into his hands,
which sum was to be paid out at a thousand pounds at a time, on the
mother?s birthday, for the next five years. ?So she?ll have a
birthday present of a thousand pounds for five successive years,?
said Uncle Oscar. ?I hope it won?t make it all the harder for her
characters provide an enormous contrast for that of the evil mother.
Each one, tries in a way, to help Paul and guide him through life, a
tremendous task usually taken on by a mother. The only luck this boy
seems to have is to be able to spend time with the male characters
who try to take him under their wing, escaping, if just for a moment,
the evil clutches of Hester. They know too well that Hester is evil
and through their words almost predict the fact that she will spend
all of the new found money in an instant and not be grateful in any
way shape or form.
The father in
the story, who does not play a big part and remains nameless
throughout, seems to be a weak and ?tortured? character. It is
apparent that the wife, Hester, has no respect for him and has no
problem verbalizing just how ?unlucky? he is to anyone who will
listen, including her young son, Paul. ?The father, who was always
very handsome and expensive in his tastes, seemed as if he never
would be able to do anything worth doing.? I?m sure Hester reminded
him of his inadequacies day in and day out. The way the father seems
to be victimized and imprisoned by the wicked witch mother can only
further point out to Paul that he needs to be the savior for the
family. When Hester confides in her son that she is, in fact,
dissatisfies with her husband, the mother sets in motion the boy?s
futile quest to please her; the very thing that winds up killing him.
apparent that the family?s house has become haunted by the evil
mother, hence the constant whispering There must be more money! There
must be more money! The house, too, has fallen victim to the mother?s
selfishness and need for more money. It envelopes the mother?s greed
and pleasure seeking tendencies; the absolute need for material
goods. The house?s whispers are, in actuality, the whispers of the
mother- whispers that will aide in Paul?s frenzy and eventual death.
whispering from the springs of the still swaying rocking-horse, and
even the horse, bending his wooden, champing head, heard it. The big
doll, sitting so pink and smirking in her new pram, could hear it
quite plainly, and seemed to be smirking all the more
self-consciously because of it. The foolish puppy, too, that took the
place of the teddy bear, he was looking so extraordinarily foolish
for no other reason but that he heard the secret whisper all over the
house: There must be more money! Yet nobody said it aloud. The
whisper was everywhere, and therefore no one spoke it.?
personification of the house clearly represents the embodiment of the
mother. Her voice is everywhere, her husband hears it, her children
hear it- all the time. The whispers frightened Paul terribly and send
him on his destructive plight of picking the winners of the horse
races, trying furiously to quiet the voices of the house and, of
course, his mother. Over the course of the story, Paul becomes
increasingly affected by the house?s whispers; his mother?s greed and
insatiable desire for material goods.
component of the story is that the family, especially Paul could not
stop the wicked witch mother from destroying all that was good and
genuine. She didn?t not even learn anything from Paul?s death. This
villainous creature will still be unsatisfied and seek for something
to fulfill her needs. Paul died in vain. Paul never gave her life. He
merely sustained the illusion of life that she was seeking; money.
One only hopes to warn the next male victim that this loathsome woman
chooses to destroy for her own monetary gains.
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