The Rocking-Horse Winner

Paul is the protagonist of the story. He is a small boy with strange blue eyes, and he seems to feel emotions so fiercely that he cannot control them. He recognizes that his mother Hester doesn’t love him, and he becomes obsessed with luck – particularly luck that leads to financial gain – and proving to Hester that he is lucky. He starts riding his rocking-horse until he reaches a trance-like state in which it is revealed to him what horse he should bet on in upcoming horse races. Paul wants to make money for his mother (who values it above all else) and to stop his house from “whispering” about their family’s constant need for more money. Paul becomes increasingly obsessive over the course of the story, and even transitions into an almost supernatural or inhuman figure. In the end he rides his rocking-horse with such intensity that he collapses and dies.

Paul Quotes in The Rocking-Horse Winner

The The Rocking-Horse Winner quotes below are all either spoken by Paul or refer to Paul. 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 and citation info for the quotes below refers 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:

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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:

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Absorbed, taking no heed of other people, he went about with a sort of stealth, seeking inwardly for luck. He wanted luck, he wanted it, he wanted it. When the two girls were playing dolls, in the nursery, he would sit on his big rocking-horse, charging madly into space with a frenzy that made the little girls peer at him uneasily.

Related Characters: Paul, Joan
Related Symbols: The Rocking-Horse
Page Number: 272
Explanation and Analysis:

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And he would slash the horse on the neck with the little whip he had asked Uncle Oscar for. He knew the horse could take him to where there was luck, if only he forced it. So he would mount again, and start on his furious ride, hoping at last to get there.

Related Characters: Paul, Oscar Cresswell (Uncle Oscar)
Related Symbols: The Rocking-Horse
Page Number: 272
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Oh, well, sometimes I’m absolutely sure, like about Daffodil,” said the boy; “and sometimes I have an idea; and sometimes I haven’t even an idea, have I, Bassett? Then we’re careful, because we mostly go down.”

Related Characters: Paul (speaker), Oscar Cresswell (Uncle Oscar), Bassett
Related Symbols: The Rocking-Horse
Page Number: 277
Explanation and Analysis:

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“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:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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And yet the voices in the house, behind the sprays of mimosa and almond-blossom, and from under the piles of iridescent cushions, simply trilled and screamed in a sort of ecstasy: “There must be more money! Oh-h-h! There must be more money! Oh, now, now-w! now-w-w—there must be more money!—more than ever! More than ever!”

Related Characters: Paul
Page Number: 280
Explanation and Analysis:

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He became wild-eyed and strange, as if something were going to explode in him.

Related Characters: Paul
Related Symbols: Eyes
Page Number: 280
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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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:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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“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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Paul Character Timeline in The Rocking-Horse Winner

The timeline below shows where the character Paul appears in The Rocking-Horse Winner. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Rocking-Horse Winner
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... (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... (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... (full context)
Family and Intimacy Theme Icon
One day Paul’s wealthy uncle, Oscar, interrupts Paul while he is riding his horse. He suggests that Paul... (full context)
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
Luck and Hard Work Theme Icon
Family and Intimacy Theme Icon
Uncle Oscar asks Paul which horse he should bet on for the upcoming Lincoln horse race. After Paul makes... (full context)
Luck and Hard Work Theme Icon
Anxiety Theme Icon
Uncle Oscar looks into Paul’s bright blue and close-together eyes and promises he won’t tell anyone. Paul tells his uncle... (full context)
Luck and Hard Work Theme Icon
Anxiety Theme Icon
Uncle Oscar takes Paul to a horse race, and Paul’s eyes look as though they are blazing when he... (full context)
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
Luck and Hard Work Theme Icon
Paul, Bassett, and Uncle Oscar go on a walk and Paul explains that they always win... (full context)
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
Luck and Hard Work Theme Icon
Anxiety Theme Icon
Family and Intimacy Theme Icon
Uncle Oscar asks Paul how he becomes “sure,” and Paul explains that he just knows. Bassett says that the... (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 the bank and... (full context)
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
Hester’s face turns cold when she receives the first check. Paul asks her if she had received any nice letters, but she says they were only... (full context)
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
Luck and Hard Work Theme Icon
Anxiety Theme Icon
Family and Intimacy Theme Icon
...Instead of paying off her debts, Hester buys new furniture and secures a tutor for Paul so that he will be able to attend Eton, a prestigious boys’ school. Scared of... (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 seaside for some rest. Paul explains... (full context)
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
Luck and Hard Work Theme Icon
Anxiety Theme Icon
Family and Intimacy Theme Icon
Paul refuses to leave the house because he doesn’t want to leave his rocking-horse—a secret about... (full context)
Anxiety Theme Icon
Family and Intimacy Theme Icon
As the Derby approaches, Paul becomes more and more nervous, and his eyes begin to look “uncanny.” His mother becomes... (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 his room. She cannot identify the... (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... (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... (full context)