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Gambling With A Life Essay, Research Paper

Gambling With a Life

Poor Devil, poor devil, he s best gone out of a life where he rides his rocking horse to find a winner(Lawrence 803). D. H. Lawrence ends The Rocking – Horse Winner, with such a profound statement. One has to ask the question, why such a profound statement? This story is about an unlucky family that substitutes their lust of money for love. The pressure for more money (793) is constant, intense and consumes the entire house. The children can feel the house calling out to them in a haunting way There must be more money (793). This pressure to acquire money is so great that eventually a mother s son loses his life, though, not before he makes his family rich. He achieves this wealth through gambling. Achieving wealth through gambling is risky, dangerous and costly.

The mother of this story is described as having a hard, resentful heart because she was raised wealthy and through circumstances beyond her control, she has lost some of her wealth. She believes the family does not have money because her husband has become unlucky. The family has moderate wealth, but she never feels satisfied that they have enough wealth, although they employ servants. The children have a nurse to tend to their needs. This shows the family has some wealth. However, this moderate amount is not sufficient.

Their son Paul could feel that he was not loved and tries desperately to gain her love. The one way he feels he can help his mother is to give her one thing she craves, and that is money. Paul secretly gambles with the gardener Bassett. His Uncle Oscar discovers this and is persuaded to join the partnership. Paul is uncanny in his predictions and the wealth starts to grow. Oscar and Paul set up a fund to pay his mother one thousand pounds on her birthday for five consecutive years. When she receives the news, she remains unsatisfied; thus, she lobbies for the entire five thousand pounds. They grant her request and she now has money.

Paul tries so hard to please his mother, but this makes things worse. The house screams for more money. The house demands more money and the pressure become insurmountable to Paul. He grows frail and worrisome over the situation. Meanwhile, his gambling habit is now truly living up to what it really is, a gamble! As the pressure mounts and the winnings are meager, because he has suffered some losses, he realizes he must win the Derby.

Since Paul s mother no longer worries about money, she opens up her heart and starts to care for Paul. One night while at a party, she is overcome with the fear that something is wrong with her son. She calls to check, but the nurse says everything is fine. After arriving home, she goes to Paul s bedroom door and she hears a strange noise. The noise is steady and low. Fearfully, she opens the door to find her son riding a rocking horse at a feverous pace. A little later, he falls off in exhaustion, while chanting the name Malabar. This was his secret to his gambling winnings; he would ride the rocking horse. As he rode, he seemingly experienced the race and certain horses came to view, until the winner would come to mind. Consequently, Malabar wins the Derby with odds of fourteen to one, and the family inherits eighty thousand pounds.

Many warnings are issued about the evils of gambling. Crime is usually a by-product in some way. Adults become hooked on gambling and commit desperate acts. Many terrible things happen, but D.H.Lawrence shows the reader a sight not often revealed. The emotional neglect of a child can lead to his involvement in the evil of gambling. Paul is abused, though not physically, but emotionally. Every child needs to feel secure in his parents love. Devoid of this basic need, he searches for a way to earn love from his mother. Gambling is the deceptive evil that is waiting to ensnare many unsuspecting innocents. Lawrence wants society to see what the cost of gambling is to the innocence of even a child. He also does not name the mother in this story because she could be any child s mother. The person who should love this little boy the most, his mother, becomes the instigator that leads Paul to seek love through money. Her love for money was greater than her love for her child and his need for love was greater than his need for money. The mother and her family finally achieves great wealth, they have their money, however the cost was so great because she loses her child forever.

D.H. Lawrence crafts this story well, portraying a greater message. The dangers of gambling are rampant, life changing, addictive, and unpredictable. Currently the United States citizen spends 500 billion dollars a year on gambling. Experts say that from 1 to 3 percent of all adult Americans have gambling problems Cozie and Winters 61). This addiction is just as deadly as any drug in the world. Gambling wrecks lives, families, and causes loss of jobs. Story upon story can be recounted of families, mothers and fathers that have ruined their lives in the name of chance.

Gambling has always been prevalent in the United States. The west was famous for its saloons and card games. The biggest boost for gambling came when Nevada allowed Las Vegas to open casinos. When casinos open crime will rise. For example, After opening casinos in Deadwood, South Dakota, crime rose 250% in the first year (Cozie and Winter 23). Many individuals start gambling innocently through college sports. Former Forbes magazine Executive Editor James Cook wrote in 1992 that illegal betting in the U.S. may run as high as $100 billion a year (Riconda 15). This brings up the question of whether or not gambling can be compulsive. Experts disagree, some say that gambling is a disease while others say it is not. The biggest point of debate is whether or not the people make a choice to gamble (Riconda 15). Other experts state that a choice is made with drugs and alcohol and no one questions the validity of those diseases.

Lawrence spins a story that shows a child getting involved with gambling to gain the love of his mother. The more money he wins, the more he has to have because the house still calls for more money. As the problem becomes more and more out of control it starts to affect his physical health and his very soul. This just sounds like numerous stories across America every day. Gambling is destructive. Many believe gambling destroys lives. Hence, Lawrence vividly illuminates how gambling destroys the lives of not only adults, but also children. He further shows how adults influence children. The Rocking- Horse Winner illustrates how a mother, preoccupied with wanting more money has unknowingly destroyed her own child. Jesus, one of the greatest philosophers of all time says, for what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his own soul (Saint Mark 986).

Works Cited

Cozie, Charles P. and Winters, Paula A. Gambling. CA.: Greenhaven, 1995.

Lawrence, D. H. The Rocking Horse Winner. Trimmer, Joseph D. and Jennings, C.

Wade. Fictions: Fourth Editions. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1998.

Riconda, Andrew. Gambling. New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1995.

Saint Mark. The Holy Bible, Authorized King James Version. Nashville: Holman, 1985.


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