Deconstructing the Crime - Paintsville Independent Schools

Crime Scene Investigation of Paul's Untimely Death in
"The Rocking-Horse Winner" by D.H. Lawrence
D.H. Lawrence's "The Rocking-Horse Winner" has elements of each of the following genres. To better
understand the story and its meaning, define the following terms and then find a textual example of
each element from the short story
Definition of term
Textual evidence from story (include pg.
Fairy Tale
At one point in the story, Paul mistakenly hears his Uncle Oscar say "filthy lucker," instead of the
idiomatic expression, "filthy lucre," which refers to money gained in a dishonorable way. Characters in
this story also seem to have the delusion that money brings luck and luck brings money. Think about the
Paul's Mother's definition of LUCK
Paul's definition of LUCK
Paul's Mother's definition of FORTUNE
Paul's Definition of FORTUNE
Using clues from the story, answer this question: HOW OLD IS PAUL? Though you won't be able to give
an exact age, you can speculate upon how old he is based on the following clues:
*he receives a rocking horse for Christmas one year
*he has been enrolled in Eton for the autumn term (Michaelmas Half)
*he dies after the Epsom Derby before his entrance to Eton
*he hears the house making voices
How old is he?___________ Speculate about what a child this age is doing on a rocking
Nonverbal Communication plays an important role in this story, especially through the eyes. For
example, on the question of whether the mother loves her children, the narrator says in the first
paragraph that "only she herself, and her children themselves, knew it was not so. They read it in each
other's eyes." Frequently, the narrator focuses on the boy's eyes to communicate a mood or meaning.
Find seven (7) passages that prove nonverbal communication is a theme in the story.
Since the publication of "the Rocking-Horse Winner" in 1926, many writers have suggested that Paul's
frantic rides on the horse are manifestations of the Oedipus Complex. In an 1899 book entitled Die
Traumdeutung (Interpretation of Dreams) Austrian physician Sigmund Freud introduced the term.
1. Briefly describe what the Oedipus Complex is:
2. Briefly describe the story of Oedipus from Greek Mythology:
3. Find evidence from the story that supports the argument Paul is Oedipal:
Find each of the following from the story:
Anaphora (When a succession of phrases or sentences begin with the same word for effect)
Alliteration (repetition of a consonant sound...look for the "s" sound)
Metaphor that describes Paul's eyes
Oxymoron (figure of speech that seems contradictory: jumbo-shrimp, pretty ugly, act naturally,
definitely maybe, walking dead, amazingly awful, awfully good, small crowd, awfully lucky)
5. Simile about the voices in the house.
A classic theme in tragic literature is that of Faust.
1. Who was Faust? (briefly)
2. Is there evidence in the story that Paul has sold his soul to the devil? (specific textual evidence)
Go to and convert 70,000 British pounds to the value of American dollars in 1926. What was
the value then?_________________________What is the value today?__________________________
D.H. Lawrence has called “The Rocking-Horse Winner” his ghost story. Like literature of the Southern
Gothic genre’ it features an exploration of ghosts, the grotesque, and the macabre; insanity; social
values that pertain to the existing culture; social class and tradition; hypocrisy; violence; decay; and
irony. Choose two of these elements and discuss how D.H. Lawrence uses the elements “The RockingHorse Winner” to illuminate similar themes found in Southern Gothic literature.