Thesis statement: Although both the stories carry the same theme of lives wasted in the pursuit of materialism, The Rocking Horse Winner takes a more moralistic point of view towards the subject when compared to The Destructors which is a lighter hearted attempt.
Paragraph 1 – Introduction to the main theme of the stories, materialism and poverty. The similarities and differences in the setting of the tales are discussed
Paragraph 2- Differences in the authors’ approach towards key concepts are discussed. Focus of the paragraph is on The Destructors.
Paragraph 3 – The approach taken by The Rocking Horse Winner is discussed.
Paragraph 4 – The main point of views of the protagonists of each story, Paul and Trevor are compared.
Paragraph 5 – Summary and conclusion
The Rocking Horse Winner by D. H. Lawrence (Lawrence 2012) and The Destructors (Greene 2012), although different in their approaches, carry a common theme – materialism and coping with poverty. Both stories are set in post war times in Britain, with The Rocking Horse based in the post World War I or WWI period, while The Destructors is set after World War II or WWII. However, while poverty was widespread post WWI and families struggled to cope with diminished earnings, the pillaging by local groups, as highlighted in The Destructors, as a means of venting pent up frustrations was common post WWII. Both tales have been weaved so that audiences during that period could easily relate to the characters and their situations. For example, post WWI women would be able to understand the constant need for more money in order to afford a better life for themselves as well as their children, while people living in the times of The Destructors would be able to understand the fear of being attacked and robbed by local gangs as experienced by Mr. Thomas. Having this easy to relate to setting allows readers to experience the emotions being felt by characters in various circumstances.
However, from this point, the two stories diverge in their purpose. While The Destructors is light hearted and mainly intends to entertain readers, The Running Horse Winner creates a mystical world of premonitions with deep moral undertones. The Destructors’ story moves along at a fast pace and its twists and turns are solely meant to keep readers engrossed. However, the audience barely knows anything about its characters, their family history or background. A reader can easily read through the story without giving a second thought to hidden meanings. The author, although addressing what could have been a serious topic, approaches it with a sense of humor. The sudden ending of the story, without any details of the aftermath of the destruction, further goes to show the casualness of the violence committed by the characters. It reflects the carefree attitude held by the gang, who destroy things to simply please themselves.
On the other hand, The Rocking Horse Winner is a tragedy that incites several emotions in the reader. The author begins the story by introducing the Paul’s mother, who is supposedly emotionally detached from her children and is always worried about attaining a higher social standing than their present level. Paul, the protagonist, is deeply affected by the plight of his mother and longs for her love and acceptance, albeit silently. His actions throughout the story are spurred by the singular purpose of getting money for his mother. Unlike the characters in The Destructors, Paul’s motives are selfless. It is his pursuit of his mother’s happiness that ultimately leads to his death. The story progresses fast enough and, although Paul’s winnings through horse race betting may appear to be happy events, there is a hanging sense of doom from the very start of the story. The author uses every character, even the Paul’s house, to convey to the reader sublime emotions that the child feels and hides.
Paul’s are driven by his wish to help his mother and yet he keeps it a secret from everyone, while Trevor and his gang openly commit crimes for no purpose what so ever. Lawrence approaches materialism as a curse which human beings draw upon themselves. The more they get, the more they crave. As Uncle Oscar points out to Paul’s father at the end, although the parents end up being very rich, they lose their son, whom they should have ideally cherished. He also mentions that the child is probably better off dead than living in a world where his life is owned by money. Trevor and his gang also desire the good things in life. However, as they are stricken by poverty, they choose to bring down everything that is rich and good. Trevor himself is emotionally disconnected from everything and admits feeling no sense of regret or concern over the consequences of his actions. He is only obsessively following his impulses. Both Paul and Trevor are masters of their own will, obsessed with following through with their actions. However, which Lawrence highlights that greed eventually leads to doom, regardless of the purity of the intention behind it.
While Greene follows a more casual approach towards concepts such as humanism, self-reliance, greed and materialism, treating them as a basic part of human nature, Lawrence views these traits from a moralistic perspective. Although The Destructor appears to be an easy read, at closer inspection it reveals a bitter truth – a man’s sense of right and wrong is adapted to reflect his own selfish needs. On the other hand, The Rocking Horse Winner conveys several minute yet important lessons that all revolve around a singular theme – man is never satisfied with what he has and the pursuit of an ever fleeing happiness is his ultimate bane.
Greene, Graham. ” The Destructors.” Galens, David. Short Stories for Students. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Cengage, 2012.
Lawrence, D. H. ” The Rocking Horse Winner.” Galen, David. Short Stories for Students. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Cengage, 2012.