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Chapter 3: The Rocking-horse Winner
There was a woman who was beautiful, who started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck. She married for love and love turned to dust. She had bonny children, yet, she felt they had been thrust upon her and she could not love them. They looked at her coldly as if they were finding fault with her. And hurriedly she felt she must cover up some fault in herself.
Yet what it was that she must cover up she never knew. Nevertheless, when her children were present, she always felt the centre of her heart go hard. This troubled her and, in her manner, she was all the more gentle and anxious for her children as if she loved them very much. Only she herself knew that at the centre of her heart was a hard little place that could not feel love, no, not for anybody. Everybody else said of her: ‘She is such a good mother. She adores her children.’ Only she herself, and her children themselves, knew it was not so.
They read it in each other’s eyes. There were a boy and two little girls. They lived in a pleasant house, with a garden, and they had discreet servants, and felt themselves superior to anyone in the neighbourhood. Although they lived in style, they felt always an anxiety in the house. There was never enough money. The mother had a small income and the father had a small income but not nearly enough for the social position which they had to keep up.
The father went into town to some office. But though he had good prospects, these prospects never materialised. There was always the grinding sense of the shortage of money though the style was always kept up. At last the mother said: ‘I will see if I can’t make something.’ But she did not know where to begin. She racked her brains, and tried this thing and the other but could not find anything successful. The failure made deep lines come into her face.
Her children were growing up; they would have to go to school. There must be more money, there must be more money. 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.
And the mother, who had a great belief in herself, did not succeed any better, and her tastes were just as expensive. And so the house came to be haunted by the unspoken phrase: ‘There must be more money! There must be more money!’ The children could hear it all the time, though nobody said it aloud.
They heard it at Christmas, when 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!’ And the children would stop playing, to listen for a moment.
They would look into each other’s eyes to see if they had all heard. And each one saw in the eyes of the other two that they too had heard. ‘There must be more money! There must be more money!’ It came 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 ever said it aloud. The whisper was everywhere and therefore no one spoke it. Just as no one
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NCERT Solutions Class 11 English Chapter 3 The Rocking-horse Winner
1. What was the reason for young Paul’s restlessness at the beginning of the story? How did it find expression?
In the beginning of the story, young Paul is restless since his mother had told him that they were not lucky as they didn’t have sufficient money to own a car and luxuries. Deep down young Paul had a feeling that his mother was not as happy as she looked. She blamed the father of young Paul for being unlucky and making her unlucky too as she was married to him.
2. Why do you think Paul’s mother was not satisfied with the yearly birthday gift of 1,000 pounds for five years?
Paul’s mother was not satisfied with the yearly birthday gift of 1,000 pounds for five years as she was very unsatisfied with her life. She always felt that she should receive a good treatment from life, which resulted in less interest for Paul’s birthday gift. However, Paul heard whispers for more money from the house.
3. What was the reason for the anxiety of Paul’s mother as he grew older?
It can be implied from the story, The Rocking-horse Winner, that Paul was a child who suffered autism and also Oedipus-complex. This story pictures Paul who is at the beginning of his teenage years and is anxious to stop the sounds that were whispered in his house that “there must be more money”. Paul was eager to bring happiness and joy to his mother through money and wished to take the place of his father in her life.
As he grew up, he betted on racing horses in order to earn more money by gambling. When Hester found that Paul was involved in horse racing, she asked her brother and gardener to keep him away from it. She understood how much stress Paul must have undergone while he grew up. She did not know the worry which was consuming and eating him was his mother.
With more eagerness to win, he lost in many of the races. Before Derby, Paul grew worried about making more money for his mother and showing his luck to her. As she was worried, she quit the party in the middle in order to see her son healthy and safe. But it was the last time she saw her son with senses.
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