The short story, “Rocking-Horse Winner”, and the movie based on it contrast considerably. When the written story has ended the movie continues with ideas, which may not come from the author. Three major differences of the two are: the mother, the father, and the ending. In the movie the mother, Hester, is portrayed as a loving and self-sacrificing person. While in the short story she is exposed to be a cold-hearted, and greedy person. Another instance where the short story and movie differ is the role of the father.
In the beginning of the written story the author reveals Hester to be a cold-hearted mother. “She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them”(75). In public she is thought of as the perfect mother, but in private she and her children know her true feelings. “Everyone else said of her: ‘She is such a good mother. She adores her children.’ Only she herself, and her children themselves, knew it was not so. They read it in each other’s eyes”(75). Hester resents her children and her husband. She blames all of her bad “luck” on the fact that she is married to an unlucky man. “And aren’t you lucky either, mother? I can’t be if I married an unlucky husband. But by yourself, aren’t you? I used to think I was, before I married. Now I think I am very unlucky indeed”(77). In the written story Hester also appears to be greedy. When Paul arranges for her to receive one thousand pounds a year for five years, Hester wants it all at once. “He said Paul’s mother had had a long interview with the lawyer, asking if the whole five thousand could not be advanced at once, as she was in debt”(83).
In the movie “Rocking-Horse Winner” Hester is depicted as a loving and self-sacrificing mother. When the Uncle Oscar refuses to give the mother any more money, she takes her favorite garments to a local tailor. She then proceeds to sell them and a suitcase for an unfair price. In the movie Hester is very concerned when Paul’s brain starts swelling. She tries to convince him to go away to the country, however he persuades her to let him stay until after the derby. When Paul goes into the coma-like state his mother sits at his bedside and cries when he dies. After Paul dies Hester wants nothing to do with the money, she even tells Bassett to burn it. The heartless Hester in the written story never shed a tear when Paul died.
Another major difference between the written story and the movie is the character of the father. In the short story the author only mentions him briefly. “The father went to town to some office. But though he had good prospects, these prospects never materialized”(76). Hester talks about her husband being unlucky frequently, but the husband is never present. Yet in the movie the father plays a moderately significant character. Throughout the movie he is included in the dialogue. He even stands up to Hester a couple of times. Everyday the father goes to work while trying to find a better job. Everyday when he gets home she asks if he had any luck finding a better job. When he reply’s that he didn’t have any luck, she belittles the job he does have. When the father loses the job he does have Hester and Uncle Oscar both scold him.
The most important difference between the movie and the written story is when the written story ends the movie continues with ideas, which may not come from the author. The movie continues to show the viewer Hester’s reaction to Paul’s death. When Paul dies she orders Bassett to take the rocking horse out of the house and burn it. When Bassett asks her what she would like him to do with the money her reply is “Burn it.” Hester exclaims, “I just want to see the end of it!” To which Bassett replies “You will never see the end of it.”
These three differences are only the major differences. Throughout the movie and written story there are numerous less significant discrepancies. The author’s version is acted out in the reader’s mind, while the movie must rely on music, setting, and ability of the actors to clearly layout the plot.