D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)
Study Questions and Activities
The Horse Dealer’s Daughter
- If you were writing a screenplay of this story, what would your three basic scenes be?
- Describe the images in each scene. Is there any change in the imagery as the scenes change?
- What do the water and mud symbolize?
- How is Joe characterized?
- In what way is Mabel like a bulldog?
- What does Mabel’s dead mother suggest?
- Why does Mabel attempt suicide?
- How does Fergusson change by the end of the story?
- What are some key differences in the description of the Pervin house in the first and last scenes?
- How is the theme of the story developed by images and symbols?
The Rocking-Horse Winner
- How is the story like a fable or fairy tale?
- What do the voices of the house tell Paul? What do these voices represent psychologically?
- What, besides a lack of money, dissatisfies Paul’s mother?
- Why doesn’t Paul want his mother to know that he is lucky?
- Is Bassett genuinely concerned about Paul’s welfare?
- What do the many references to religion mean?
- What does the rocking-horse symbolize?
- How does the story use the quest myth or archetype?
- Some critics have seen Lawrence’s friend Lady Cynthia Asquith (1887-1960) as the model for Paul’s mother. Argue for or against this position. Start with the entry in Wikipedia or Oxford’s Dictionary of National Biography (DNB).
Film Adaptation Rocking Horse Winner Dir. Peter Medak (1976) 30 min. https://archive.org/details/RockingHorseWinner76
Passport photograph of the British author D. H. Lawrence by Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:D_H_Lawrence_passport_photograph.jpg) is in the Public Domain.