Character Analysis of Katherine Anne Porter's He Essay

Character Analysis of Katherine Anne Porter's He Essay

Length: 1194 words (3.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Character Analysis of Katherine Anne Porter's He


In Katherine Anne Porter's short story "He," she presents several themes that she develops primarily through the actions of the main characters, particulary Mrs. Whipple. Porter portrays a poor, lower class Southern family and the difficulties they encounter. More importantly, she centers the story around the feelings of shame, pride, and an exaggerated concern for appearances through Mrs. Whipple's's relationship with her mentally retarded son and her behavior toward Him. Other characters, such as her husband Mr. Whipple and their two "able-bodied" children Adna and Emly serve to expand the story's themes and highlight the extremity of Mrs. Whipple's actions.

Early in the story we see how vital appearance is to Mrs. Whipple. She remarks to her husband that no one should ever hear them complain (324). Her real effort to maintain a front for her neighbors, however, surrounds her "simple-minded son," who never has any identity other than "He." It seems that Mrs. Whipple fears that if those around her know He is retarded, this would reflect badly on her character. Many times, unfortunately, parents of children with any birth defect worry they have some blame to account for. Mrs. Whipple, unfortunately, represents a rather extreme case. She seemed to believe that by "over-loving" her son in public and refusing to acknowledge his handicap, she could avoid social stigma and somehow quell her own insecurities. Mrs. Whipple comments to whoever would listen that He is strong, capable, and "He can do anything . . . " (325). Such exclamations, the author tells us "seemed to ease her mind" (324). In these quotations we see clearly how Mrs. Whipple's actions...


... middle of paper ...


...ok sick" (332). Furthermore, she takes care to dress in her good clothes, so no one will think she looks like charity. Even as she is about to lose her son, she cannot let go of her need to put on a performance for the society she feels has shunned her.

Porter's story gives its audience a powerful lesson that extends far beyond social standing or mental handicaps. The pathetic example of "Him" shows us just how far many of us go for mere illusions. Mrs. Whipple was willing to sacrifice her son and her family's welfare in order to mask their situation. To a world of airbrushing and political propaganda, Porter shows how dangerous the game of pretense can become and how the innocent often bear the brunt of the harm.


Work Cited

Porter, Katherine Anne. "He." The Literature of the American South. Ed. William L. Andrews. New York: Norton. 1998.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Analysis Of Katherine Anne Porter 's ' The Grave ' Essay example

- Katherine Anne Porter is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, essayist, short story writer, novelist, and political activist known for writing thought provoking stories of the human heart and nature around our lives through relatable everyday realities. Although the writer claims, “I do not believe in style. The style is you”, the structures of her works are very complex. In Porter’s short story, “The Grave”, two main characters are introduced as siblings named Miranda, 9, and Paul, 12....   [tags: Short story, Fiction, Katherine Anne Porter]

Strong Essays
1086 words (3.1 pages)

Analysis Of Katherine Anne Porter 's ' The Grave ' Essay

- Although “The Grave” seems to be about two children playing in their grandfather’s grave, it is actually about the realization of gender roles, coming of age, and mortality. Katherine Anne Porter wanted the reader to look beneath the surface of the story to find the many different underlying meanings. The main character Miranda is faced with the cold hard truth that life isn’t always sweet and pleasant as she watches her brother kill and skin a pregnant rabbit. Being a nine-year-old tomboy Miranda doesn’t think twice about going off hunting with her brother, Paul....   [tags: Woman, Girl, Family, Childhood]

Strong Essays
1398 words (4 pages)

Analysis of Granny Weatherall in the Jilting of Granny Weatherall by Katherine Anne Porter

- In the short story, "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall," written by Katherine Anne Porter, it is essentially focused on Granny Weatherall, an old woman who is in her death bed who is reminiscing about important life events, her young days and her children.. Granny's strong character and personality reminded me of my own grandfather, who had the same character as Granny Weatherall. The reason why I chose this particular short story was that it reminded me of my grandfather, who had a huge impact on my life, and as reading this short story of Granny Weatherall, memories of him filled up in my head....   [tags: prayer, last days, grandparent]

Strong Essays
806 words (2.3 pages)

Amateur City Essay

- Amateur City, a city filled with confusion and intolerable human behavior. In this detective fiction novel, Katherine Forrest demonstrates the social, sexual and power dynamic of each character which all leads to the curious homicide of Fergus Parker. In Forrest’s Amateur City there are multiple analysis regarding the characters of the “Modern Office” also including the detective Kate Delafield. Amateur City portrays a huge hierarchy of the predominant human society in which the class of race, ethnicity and gender are all divided in the image of Forrest’s characters....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Katherine Foster]

Strong Essays
1629 words (4.7 pages)

Essay on Katherine Anne Porter's Rope

- 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...   [tags: Katherine Anne Porter Rope Essays]

Strong Essays
1036 words (3 pages)

Essay on Two Strong Willed Women

- Two Strong Willed Women It is so admirable and such an honor to be in the presence of a strong willed woman. Since day one, women have been made to feel inferior to men in many situations. Women have had to fight for rights and equality for centuries. The fact that there are very strong minded, domineering, and opiniated woman that exist is such a bonus for us. So many women continue to take no for an answer instead of just standing up for ourselves. In reading “ A Worn Path”’ by Eudora Welty and The Jilting of Granny Weatherall”’ by Katherine Anne Porter, the main characters both portray that strong willed persona that most women desire to have....   [tags: Character Analysis]

Strong Essays
793 words (2.3 pages)

Examination of Characters in Katherine Anne Porter's Short Story He Essay

- Examination of Characters in Katherine Anne Porter's Short Story He Katherine Anne Porter's moving and stylistically cohesive short story "He" contains much worth discussing. The story's characters are quite memorable and provide for interesting character studies; in addition, the plot and themes of the story are also noteworthy. The most elaborately detailed character is Mrs. Whipple. She is the dominating member of the Whipple family; despite her belief in "men's work" as opposed to women's, she seems to have a great deal of say in family decisions....   [tags: Katharine Anne Porter He Essays]

Strong Essays
1043 words (3 pages)

Essay about The Symbolism of the Purse in Theft by Katherine Anne Porter

- The purse in Katherine Anne Porters' short story, "Theft", is linked to several episodes and in each event reveals the main character's inner personality. The first episode is her encounters with three men. The second event is the theft of her purse. Lastly, the protagonist confronts the thief. In each episode the main character displays her intimate personality. After an afternoon cocktail party, a Latin man named Camilo escorts her to the subway station through the rain. Camilo makes several gracious gestures to try and pay for her, but she refuses, as she is afraid he may fall on the rainy steps when returning....   [tags: American Literature Katherine Anne Porter]

Strong Essays
735 words (2.1 pages)

Essay on Romanticism in Katherine Anne Porter’s Old Mortality

- Romanticism in Katherine Anne Porter’s Old Mortality Katherine Anne Porter’s characters in “Old Mortality” make contradicting statements throughout the story with their personalities as much as their words. Eva, the “Old Maid,” symbolizes aging, and the hardships and pain that can be associated with it. Amy can be thought of as her foil, because she seems to represent the antithesis of Eva in every way. Frozen in time with her premature death, Amy remains for the older members of the family the strongest link to the values and ways of life they were so comfortable with during the Victorian Era....   [tags: Katherine Anne Porter’s Old Mortality]

Strong Essays
1434 words (4.1 pages)

Appearance Versus Reality in Katharine Anne Porter's He Essay

- Appearance Versus Reality in Katharine Anne Porter's He So many memories came to my mind while reading this story. I grew up in a family (or at least one side of that family) who always cared and worried about what other people thought. Most obviously, the short story, "He," by Katharine Anne Porter is about appearance vs. reality and living with a disabled child. But I also believe the story is about life, the hardships of life, poverty, the innocence of children, the trust children put into their parents, the gossip of small towns, the resentment and bitterness of the hardships of life, being a mother, rural life, denial, guilt, and compassion....   [tags: Katharine Anne Porter He Essays]

Free Essays
1369 words (3.9 pages)