Although Lawrence has chosen to cast his materials in one of the oldest of narrative forms, his subject is as timely as today’s newspaper: the obsession of the modern world with making money. That familiar alliteration of the fairy tale, an incantation (“Mirror, mirror, on the wall . . . ”), sounds throughout this story: There must be more money! There must be more money! The demands of a upper middle class, upward-mobile society are insatiable. Money makes hungry what most it satisfies, and Paul’s first winnings only succeed in feeding his mother’s appetite for “more money.” She was not happy receiving money each birthday; she wanted it in a lump sum. Yet this lump sum will be quickly spent and lead to more wants.
Lawrence’s masterstroke in the story is his linking of love, luck, and lucre. The mother,
Hester is incapable of love, and she tries to fill the emptiness at the center of her life with money. Luck, she believes, is “what causes you to have money.” Since her husband cannot make enough money to satisfy her, her marriage is by her definition “unlucky.” Hester is, like her voice, “cold and absent.” Paul determines to win her love by the only means that will work—lucre. To do this, “to compel her attention,” he must be lucky. Lawrence again sounds a magic incantation: He wanted luck, he wanted it, he wanted it. Paul’s vehicle to take him “to where there is luck,” the “shining modern” rocking horse, is itself an article of conspicuous consumption, one of the “expensive and splendid” toys that fill the nursery.
Lawrence makes clear the allegorical significance of Paul’s rides, a feverish activity that leads nowhere. They are mad. Paul is “charging madly into space,” “madly surging” on his rocking horse, “his big blue eyes blazing with a