D. H. Lawrence: The Rocking-Horse Winner (Deal Me In 2018 – Week 16)

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…poor devil, poor devil, he’s best gone out of a life where he rides his rocking-horse to find a winner.

“The Rocking-Horse Winner” by D. H. Lawrence tells the story of eight year-old Paul and his ability to pick winners in horse racing. In spite of the less than noble stigma horse racing and gambling might have, Lawrence gives Paul a jubilant innocence that lets the story feel like a fairy-tale. Even Paul’s partners, his Uncle Oscar and Bassett the gardener, who could have easily been portrayed with a more sinister nature, unabashedly back Paul and his efforts to win money for his family.

The way Lawrence slowly reveals the magical manner in which Paul selects winning horses maintains the story’s innocence but when it’s combined with the “voices” that Paul’s house makes and the tragedy at the end, it gives the feel of one of those “deal with the devil” stories even if it’s not specifically mentioned.

Lawrence’s poetic style seamlessly melds these two sides, the potentially good and the potentially evil, making “The Rocking-Horse Winner” a classic.

I read this story when I selected the King of Spades for Week 16 of my Deal Me In 2018 short story project. My Deal Me In list can be seen here. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.