Katherine Anne Porter's Rope
Part I: Abstract:
Like the majority of literary criticism of Katherine Anne Porter's "Rope," Jane Krause DeMouy's comments are part of a larger work examining the thread of characteristics, themes and techniques woven throughout Porter's writings. In her "Katherine Anne Porter's Women: The Eye of Her Fiction," DeMouy focuses primarily on six stories published in "The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter" between 1922 and 1928. She characterizes them as "all stories of women caught in constricting circumstances who must recognize and confront two burdens in their lives: Their sexuality and their social position." DeMouy suggests that in "Rope," Porter is examining circumstances in which a woman of her own background and social standing might find herself, trapped in an unhappy marriage and personally limited by the attitudes and values of her spouse.
The third-party narrative technique employed in "Rope" is described as not being omniscient nor providing insight into the psyche of the characters. The fact that we never learn the identity of the characters is dismissed as "The man and the woman in 'Rope' are unnamed and undescribed." What we know of the two is based primarily on the content and tone of their conversations. DeMouy describes this technique as "having a distracting effect, as if the reader were watching a film of the incident rather than experiencing the quarrel from the emotional standpoint of either husband or wife." She also makes the assumption the story is actually told in hindsight from one of the character's point of view. Since "Rope" does illuminate the husband's feelings more than the wif...
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"Rope" effectively demonstrates what can happen in a relationship without mutual respect and a conscious effort to understand the other's point of view. Unfortunately, these "fated" relationship are not uncommon in our society. Often minor disagreements escalate into domestic violence. Gender roles and perceptions, though radically evolving, continue to sabotage otherwise healthy and mutually beneficial liaisons. Regardless of the Katherine Anne Porter's purpose in writing "Rope," it offers a reference point for objectively evaluating one's own culpability in a relationship gone bad. It can also provide an insightful look at how not to handle a problem in a relationship. I've already shared it.
DeMouy, Jane Krause. Katherine Anne Porter's Women: The Eye of Her Fiction. Austin: University of Texas Press. 1983
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