Comparing Rocking-Horse Winner, Prussian Officer, and Second Best

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Differences in Rocking-Horse Winner, Prussian Officer, and Second Best

Works by the same author often show the repeated use of certain words, images, or plots. In five short stories by the author, D.H. Lawrence, differences between social classes are the basis for conflict and provide the foundation for taboo relationships. These five stories are "The Rocking-Horse Winner," "The Prussian Officer," "Second Best," "The White Stocking," and "The Daughters of the Vicar." The inclusion of the motif of class differences in these particular works often leads to acts of violence or tragedy as the outcome.

In "The Rocking-Horse Winner," a relationship forms between the pseudo- aristocratic Paul and his family's gardener, Bassett. Paul's
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Consequently, more violence also arises. The officer is, "a Prussian aristocrat, haughty and overbearing. Having made too many gambling debts . . . he remained an infantry captain"(2). The officer is furious at the youth and vigor of his servant, he often catches himself admiring the "young, brown, shapely peasant's hand"(3) or "the strong, easy young figure, the fine eyebrows, the thick black hair" (5). The class difference is accentuated by the officer's cruelty towards his young charge: he is forced to stay indoors doing mindless tasks instead of spending a few meager minutes with his girlfriend, he is violently kicked behind the legs for failing to answer a question quickly enough, he is slapped in the face with the end of a belt, and he is struck with a heavy military glove in the same way. The officer is clearly jealous of the freedom of the peasantry, and indicates this with his thoughts of hatred and violent actions as well as words. The servant is tortured simply for who he is, not for what he has done: he is lower than the officer and, therefore, faced with less constraint and social pressures. "The Captain could not regain his neutrality of feeling towards his orderly. Nor could he leave the man alone" (4). The torture continues until the two are finally placed on the same level during a climactic scene of violence and death. The orderly's murder of the officer is a man to man struggle,
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