Key Questions :
a) The following is a concise explanation of the different comprehensive strategies I adopted for reading this story.
Beginning with the "Before-reading" strategies, I can say that at first my purpose for reading this story was merely to fulfil the tasks required for this course. Later on, it became more for the satisfaction of my curiosity, particularly when I first noticed the story's tittle "The Rocking-horse Winner". The title was vague, so it compelled me to read further to discover what the story was about. Also I noticed that the story is of the short story type which I personally admire. The approach I decided to use for reading the story, was established naturally and spontaneously in my mind. This approach consisted of a deep attentive reading and a prolonged examination of every single event. The mere fact that this is a short story makes it compelling to any reader to adopt this approach because one cannot afford to miss a single detail. Concerning the "During-reading" strategies, I started relating the events and characters of the story to social phenomenon and facts that we all encounter in real life. For instance, the depiction of the family and the attitude of its members typify families with aristocratic origins that tried to conserve all traditional habits and living patterns but failed desperately due to financial problems. Moreover, as the story progressed, I tried anticipating the subsequent events. Some were obvious, such as predicting the accuracy of Paul's guesses, while others were considerably harder to predict like Paul's death at the end of the story. Finally, after finishing the story, I naturally went through some of the "After-reading" strategies. I had questions, answers and ideas haunting my mind concerning the message one can take from the story, the meaning of Paul's death in that message, the mother's attitude, and whether it would change after such a tragedy. Then I found that a conclusion where I could understand the value of such an emotional and touching event, which is the child's death. The author wanted to stress his message and to make sure it was transmitted in the strongest way possible. In the end, observing the story from the outside, linking its events to everyday life, anticipating its event and interpreting it's ending, oriented my reading and helped me to cover all aspects of the story.
b) The following is formalist analysis of four textual elements of this this story.
-The conflict: It is hard for any reader of this story to find a clear conflict between two characters. Although a vague protagonist/antagonist relation exists, it would not be very accurate to claim that there is an open conflict between Paul and his mother. One could consider a deeper and more significant kind of conflict. There is an inner conflict, revealed from the beginning of the story where the mother and the father were experiencing a dangerous disparity between their financial state and their supposed social class. The author states: "Although they lived in style, they felt always an anxiety in the house. There was never enough money. The mother had a small income, and the father had a small income, but not nearly enough for the social position which they had to keep up". In addition, one can notice how this conflict, basically produced by the parents, impacted the children who were haunted by that voice saying: "There must be more money! There must be more money!" and living in this unhealthy and obsessive environment. So practically, the conflict exists inside every member of the family: the financial state versus the social class of the parents, and the anxious and depressive environment versus a normal, happy, worry-free childhood of the children.
-The plot: From the beginning of the story, one encounters immediate signs and hints that prepare the reader to directly understand the main plot of the story (which is a