This story was interesting to me, but also felt like a lot of people taking advantage of a kid. The mother freely admitted for most of the story that she did not care for her children and found some of their actions annoying (riding the rocking horse so much).
The attitude the mother had about the luck of her husband and herself was a theme around why they did not have money and why they always struggled. Living like they were better than others and the feelings by others that she was a great mother, were two of the facades she portrayed.
I felt there were two super natural elements in the story. First, the “there must be more money” whisper that continued throughout seemed to be a result of the parents continually needing or wanting more money. This particular haunting is what caused Paul to be interested and finally say he has luck. This leads to the second element – the rocking horse. Paul felt that by riding his horse, he had power that made him know when a race horse was a sure thing - thus winning money - thus being lucky.
Bassett seemed to genuinely care about Paul. He was helpful and was trustworthy with the money they had been earning. His Uncle Oscar seemed to have his own interest in mind and wanted something from Paul – he seemed greedy.
The story lead me to believe that Paul was doing all of this, so his mother would not complain about no luck and the whispers would stop. Paul gave her a birthday gift thinking for the next 5 years she would be so happy and able to feel lucky. However, she was greedy, wanted it all then, and in turn the whispers didn't go away, they got worse. The increase in the whispers indicated to me that something major was going to happen – we even saw Paul being scared and became laser focused on knowing who was going to win the Derby.
I feel that the first time the mother showed compassion and concern was at the end of the story when Paul was acting off. It was not until he was dying that he could tell his mother he was lucky. He had done what he had set out to do - with his last breath he give his mother luck, and by dying he stopped the whispers. I wonder how she felt in that moment? Was sadness present or did her greed take over with the money that she knew he’d won?
Because Paul was so tormented by the whispers and giving his mother luck, dying represented some peace in my opinion. The uncle continued to want to use Paul for his knowledge or luck so that he could win money as well. While I don't think he used Paul in a way that took Paul's money, he was exploiting his "luck" which may have led to additional torment and focus on needing to be lucky.
The need for money in this story is the reason that the mom felt unlucky, the dad felt unlucky, and Paul felt the burning need to solve that for them. Materialistic references were made throughout as well. From the beginning of the story talking about how they lived in style, had servants, felt superior, to the end of the story where the mother takes off her fur cloak. The airs that were being put on was in large part so that the mother could feel she had money. I think it drove the "whispers" Paul heard. I agree, so much of society today is driven or measured by what you have.
I felt there were two things that could have taken on a paranormal tone - the whispers and the rocking horse. Paul could have been hearing things but based on what the words were, it was based on the fact that his mother continually needed more. Your perception on Paul wanting to be closer to his mother by saying he is lucky is something I overlooked as a possibility. Paul saying he was lucky I took it as the author eluding to the fact that Paul just wanted it to stop and bring his mom happiness.
I felt Oscar was taking from Paul in a way. He used Paul to get the information on the horses so he could win money. I felt his character was more of a lesson in how some can be family and not outright using, but he did "take" from Paul.
Barrett gave Paul information and did genuinely try to help Paul, but I did wonder had he stopped that, would Paul have ended up being so obsessed with luck.
Looking at this story and thinking back to some stories my parents or grandparents told, I agree. Many kids took on responsibilities of adults at a young age. This story represented that as well. It seemed interesting to me though that while there was mention of the sisters briefly, there was no other relevance to them. And while the story told of the father's bad luck, his views or worries were not disclosed. The lack of attention or care that the mother showed may have been to emphasize why Paul felt he needed to be the hero so to speak.