Katherine Anne Porter: History in Context Essay

Katherine Anne Porter: History in Context Essay

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Is a woman's strength determined by her endurance to stay in a hurtful relationship or is it determined by her ability to move on? The early twentieth century is known to women as the "era of exuberance." (Gilbert 1205) During the early twentieth century women began to find the answer to the question at hand deeply rooted within themselves. The answer for Katherine Anne Porter seemed to be her ability to move on based on the actions she chose in her real life. Does her literature tell a different story? Born in Indian Creek, Texas on May 15, 1980, Callie Russell Porter spent most of her life outside of the state of Texas. In 1915 after nine years of marriage to John Henry Koontz she divorced him claiming "nothing in common and physical abuse." (Davidson) At this point she changes her name to Katherine Anne Porter, her late-grandmother's name. At the young age of 25 Porter had already broken the role of a traditional woman that was known to that time period.

In 1915 divorce was barely even a recognizable word, and to claim a form of irreconcilable differences and physical abuse was even more frowned upon. Porter's divorce signified not only a major alteration in her own personal life, but also the beginning of the "modernist" period. (Gilbert 1205) However when Porter changes her name to her grandmother's name, this could be taken as a new identity for herself. One could assume that Porter was not happy with her own choices and wanted a clean slate. On the other hand her name change may symbolize that she admired her grandmother's strong-will and wanted to become more like her. Without a mother Catherine Porter was indeed Katherine Porter's role model. Porter seemed to show her admiration by immortalizing her ...


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... mold of a traditional woman throughout her entire life. She set new standards for women regarding relationships. She dared to get divorces, to leave an abusive man, to leave a cheating man, to have a lover, even to marry a much younger man, but more importantly she dared to write about these controversial topics. Readers may get a sense of Granny's bitterness toward men, but they cannot ignore her strength and independence. Porter was a part of the "era of exuberance" because she played her role in the evolution of women. The answer to the question posed at the beginning of this paper is the same question women of the early twentieth century began asking themselves. This question became a choice for them. Porter chose to be strong because of her ability to move on, and by the time she became Granny Weatherall she knew she had achieved what she had set out to do.

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