The Rocking-Horse Winner

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Themes and Colors
Greed and Materialism  Theme Icon
Luck and Hard Work Theme Icon
Anxiety Theme Icon
Family and Intimacy Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Rocking-Horse Winner, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

The plot of “The Rocking-Horse Winner” is fueled by a cycle of approval and greed. Hester sets this cycle in motion by seeking the approval of her neighbors. She does not have enough money to live the lifestyle that they do, but she wants their approval so badly that she becomes greedy for more material wealth. Her greed even makes her blind to the fact that her anxiety over money and the approval of others…

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Hester defines luck as that which “causes you to have money.” She tells Paul that one is born lucky or not, and God chooses to make people lucky at random. Hester values luck because she believes that if she were lucky, she would be rich and never need to worry about working or losing her fortune. She tells Paul that she used to think she was lucky, but now she thinks she isn’t because she…

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Paul’s home is so full of anxiety that even the house itself seems to worry over the family’s financial situation. Hester and Paul, the two main characters, take different approaches to relieving their anxiety. Hester complains and spends more, while Paul works with Bassett and rides his rocking-horse frantically—but neither character is successful. In fact, both of them become more anxious as the story progresses. Paul is made so anxious by his whispering house…

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When Paul dies, Uncle Oscar implies to Hester that she is actually better off now—she has eighty thousand pounds and no longer has to deal with a son who was unfit to manage in the world. Oscar clearly does not care deeply for Paul, even though Paul is his nephew and helped him win thousands of pounds. Hester initially seems not to care for her children either and feels cold whenever they are around her…

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