In "The Rocking-Horse Winner," a young boy, Paul, perceives that there is never enough money in his family, he sets out to find a way to get money through luck. He discovers that if he rides his rocking-horse fast enough, he will somehow "know" the name of the winning horse in the next race.
He begins to make money and secretly funnel this money to his mother, but the desire for more money only grows more intense instead of going away. He finally rides his rocking-horse so furiously in order to discover the winner of the Derby that he falls into illness and dies, just as the winning horse earns his family an enormous fortune.
The Characters that take place in the story:
- Paul: Boy who knows that his mother does not love him or his sisters even though she outwardly shows affection and treats her children kindly. After Paul receives a rocking horse one Christmas, he rides it often and develops a strange intuitive power that enables him to correctly predict the winners of horses races. At racetracks, he wins thousands of pounds that he sets aside to defray his mother's debts.
- Hester: Paul's mother. She becomes dissatisfied with her marriage after her husband fails to make enough money to support the elegant lifestyle that has put the family deep in debt.
- Paul's Father: Man who works in town and has promising prospects that never seem to materialize because, as his wife says, he is unlucky.
- Bassett: The family gardener. He initiates Paul into the world of horse racing, and they becoming betting partners.
- Oscar Creswell: Paul's uncle and his mother's sister. He provides Paul the money that the boy uses to make his first successful bet.
- Miss Wilmot: The family nurse.
- Paul's Siblings: Two younger sisters, one named Joan and the other unidentified by name.
- Chief Artist: Woman who sketches drawings for newspaper advertisements placed by drapers. Hester works for her to make extra money.