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Rocking Horse Winner and The Chyrsanthemums

This research will compare and contrast diverse elements in the short stories "The Rocking-Horse Winner" by D.H. Lawrence and "The Chrysanthemums" by John Steinbeck. Lawrence constructs a narrative of psychological unreality around a physical environment of magical realism, while Steinbeck's narrative describes, not what people are thinking or feeling, but what they say and what actions they do. Even though the objectivity description is highly suggestive and symbolic and for that reason has the effect of conveying thoughts and feelings.

The thematic pattern of Lawrence's story could be described as magical realism. The narrative combines vivid imagination, an environment of intense psychological dysfunction, and features of sorcery and demonology. The reader either will or won't give himself over to the conceit, but the element of dark and effective magic can be set beside the intense and deep emotional emptiness that engulfs the boy's life and makes all the more shocking the effect of his death. In Steinbeck's story, there is a more subtle but no less intense undercurrent of effect. In "The Chrysanthemums," the thematic pattern of an ambiguous flirtation is established through highly suggestive description of physical surroundings and of behavior.

Demonic figures, obsessiveness, and irony interact in "Rocking-Horse." The most obvious demon is the rocking horse itself, which Paul identifies with God, something so sacred that it has no name except the one the horse reveals from time to time. Paul's ability to "know" the winning name is proof of the horse's sorcery. Another demon is the house, which Paul hates because it whispers (7) but to which he becomes obsessively attached as if it were a demon lover because only in the hated house does the rocking-horse demon work its magic. Another demon is intangible but nonetheless -- or for that very reason -- quite real: an absence of love and a vulgar preoccupation with wealth and posi...

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Rocking Horse Winner and The Chyrsanthemums. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 05:21, July 14, 2020, from