The Rocking-Horse Winner

Hester is Paul’s mother, a middle-class woman with two other children as well. She is obsessed with appearances, and particularly with keeping up the appearance of being wealthier than she actually is. Hester believes strongly in luck, and thinks that she is unlucky because she married a man (Paul’s father) who doesn’t make a lot of money. At the beginning of the story, Hester feels cold toward her children and cannot make herself love them. By the end of the story, however, she is overwhelmed with concern for Paul’s well-being—although Lawrence doesn’t show her reaction to Paul’s death.

Hester Quotes in The Rocking-Horse Winner

The The Rocking-Horse Winner quotes below are all either spoken by Hester or refer to Hester. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of The Rocking-Horse Winner published in 2008.
The Rocking-Horse Winner Quotes

And so the house came to be haunted by the unspoken phrase: There must be more money! There must be more money!

Related Characters: Paul, Hester, Joan
Page Number: 270
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

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Yet nobody ever said it aloud. The whisper was everywhere, and therefore no one spoke it. Just as no one ever says: “We are breathing!” in spite of the fact that breath is coming and going all the time.”

Related Characters: Paul, Hester, Joan
Page Number: 270
Explanation and Analysis:
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“[Luck is] what causes you to have money. If you’re lucky you have money. That’s why it’s better to be born lucky than rich. If you’re rich, you may lose your money. But if you’re lucky, you will always get more money.”

Related Characters: Hester (speaker), Paul
Page Number: 271
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“I started it for mother. She said she had no luck, because father is unlucky, so I thought if I was lucky, it might stop the whispering.”

Related Characters: Paul (speaker), Oscar Cresswell (Uncle Oscar), Hester, Paul’s father
Page Number: 278
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

He hardly heard what was spoken to him, he was very frail, and his eyes were really uncanny. His mother had sudden strange seizures of uneasiness about him. Sometimes, for half an hour, she would feel a sudden anxiety about him that was almost anguish. She wanted to rush to him at once, and know he was safe.

Related Characters: Paul, Hester
Related Symbols: Eyes
Page Number: 282
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

There was a strange, heavy, and yet not loud noise. Her heart stood still. It was a soundless noise, yet rushing and powerful. Something huge, in violent, hushed motion. What was it? What in God’s Name was it? She ought to know. She felt that she knew the noise. She knew what it was.

Related Characters: Hester
Related Symbols: The Rocking-Horse
Page Number: 283
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

His eyes blazed at her for one strange and senseless second, as he ceased urging his wooden horse. Then he fell with a crash to the ground, and she, all her tormented motherhood flooding upon her, rushed to gather him up.

Related Characters: Paul, Hester
Related Symbols: The Rocking-Horse, Eyes
Page Number: 283
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“I never told you, mother, that if I can ride my horse, and get there, then I’m absolutely sure—oh, absolutely! Mother, did I ever tell you? I am lucky!”

Related Characters: Paul, Hester
Related Symbols: The Rocking-Horse
Page Number: 284
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“My God, Hester, you’re eighty-odd thousand to the good, and a poor devil of a son to the bad. But, poor devil, he’s best gone out of a life where he rides his rocking-horse to find a winner.”

Related Characters: Oscar Cresswell (Uncle Oscar) (speaker), Paul, Hester
Related Symbols: The Rocking-Horse
Page Number: 285
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Hester Character Timeline in The Rocking-Horse Winner

The timeline below shows where the character Hester appears in The Rocking-Horse Winner. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Rocking-Horse Winner
Luck and Hard Work Theme Icon
Anxiety Theme Icon
Family and Intimacy Theme Icon
The story opens with a description of a woman (still unnamed, but later revealed as Hester) who is unlucky. She used to be in love with her husband when she married... (full context)
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
Hester and her three children—two girls and one boy—live in a nice house and employ servants... (full context)
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
Luck and Hard Work Theme Icon
Anxiety Theme Icon
One day Paul, the boy, asks Hester why they don’t have a car and why they must take taxis everywhere. She explains... (full context)
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
Luck and Hard Work Theme Icon
Paul is confused because he thought the expression “filthy lucker” referred to money, but Hester corrects him and says the expression is “filthy lucre.” She tells him that she would... (full context)
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
Luck and Hard Work Theme Icon
Anxiety Theme Icon
Family and Intimacy Theme Icon
Paul tells Hester that he is lucky, although he does not know why he decides to say this.... (full context)
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
Luck and Hard Work Theme Icon
Anxiety Theme Icon
Family and Intimacy Theme Icon
...with his money, Paul explains that he started betting for the sake of his mother (Hester). Paul hoped that if he became lucky, “it might stop the whispering.” Uncle Oscar doesn’t... (full context)
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
Anxiety Theme Icon
Family and Intimacy Theme Icon
Instead of giving Hester money directly, Paul gives five thousand pounds to Uncle Oscar, who takes the money to... (full context)
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
Hester’s face turns cold when she receives the first check. Paul asks her if she had... (full context)
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
Luck and Hard Work Theme Icon
Anxiety Theme Icon
Family and Intimacy Theme Icon
Once Hester has the money, the house starts whispering louder and more madly than ever before. Instead... (full context)
Anxiety Theme Icon
Family and Intimacy Theme Icon
Hester finally notices the madness in Paul’s eyes and suggests that he go down to the... (full context)
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
Luck and Hard Work Theme Icon
Anxiety Theme Icon
Family and Intimacy Theme Icon
...to leave his rocking-horse—a secret about which even Bassett and Uncle Oscar don’t know. When Hester decides that Paul is too old to stay in the nursery, Paul has his horse... (full context)
Anxiety Theme Icon
Family and Intimacy Theme Icon
...very worried about him. Two nights before the Derby, while at a party in town, Hester is overwhelmed with concern for Paul. The anxiety “gripped her heart till she could hardly... (full context)
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
Anxiety Theme Icon
Family and Intimacy Theme Icon
When Hester arrives home and goes to Paul’s door, she hears a violent, rushing noise coming from... (full context)
Luck and Hard Work Theme Icon
Family and Intimacy Theme Icon
Three days later, Paul’s condition is critical, and Hester feels as if her heart has been replaced with a stone. Bassett comes in and... (full context)
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
Luck and Hard Work Theme Icon
Family and Intimacy Theme Icon
After Paul’s death, Uncle Oscar tells Hester, whose name is finally revealed, that she is better off than she was before—she has... (full context)