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

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

Length: 1043 words (3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

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. Mrs. Whipple is extremely concerned with status and appearances -- indeed, overly so. This preoccupation of hers is prominent throughout the story, from beginning to end. She is concerned, first of all, with making sure that no one else is aware of her family's poverty. She mentions, when things are going particularly bad for the Whipple, that "[The neighbors]'ll be calling us poor white trash next," and we know that would be tantamount to death for Mrs. Whipple. She is so concerned with keeping up appearances, in fact, that she goes against the advice of her husband and butchers a sucking pig when her brother, his "plump wife" and two "roaring hungry" boys come to visit. Although this will hurt them in the long run, Mrs. Whipple simply cannot bear to admit the inadequacy of her family's income. Mrs. Whipple knows her family, especially her the long run, Mrs. Whipple simply cannot bear to admit the inadequacy of her family's income. Mrs. Whipple knows her family, especially her "simple-minded" son, is not like others, but she tries desperately to make them appear normal. Thus her other preoccupation lies in protecting her "simple-minded" son. We learn that Mrs. ...


... middle of paper ...


...s moving and darkly humorous look at family dynamics. It certainly makes a clear statement against concern for appearances at all costs. It also explores the idea of "motherly love" and how good intentions can go bad. In the end, however, this story is just appearances at all costs. It also explores the idea of "motherly love" and how good intentions can go bad. In the end, however, this story is just depressing. We feel very sorry for -- and a little true sympathy for -- Mrs. Whipple and her family. Nevertheless, we cannot agree that it was "a mortal pity He was ever born," for we know that "she had loved Him as much as she possibly could"; in light of all her other concerns and preoccupations, however, it just wasn't enough.

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 »

Character Analysis of Katherine Anne Porter's He Essay

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

Strong Essays
1194 words (3.4 pages)

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)

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 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)

Granny Weatherall by Katherine Anne Porter Essay example

- The Two Jiltings of Granny Weatherall Katherine Anne Porter’s “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” is a short story illustrating the struggle of an old woman trying to face death with personal dignity. At the story’s heart is a masterful characterization of the protagonist, Granny Weatherall. Katherine Anne Porter has developed the character of Granny Weatherall “with such clarity and force that her life story becomes a prototype for everyone’s, regardless of age or circumstance” (Blake 3465)....   [tags: sexist criticism, light, darkness]

Strong Essays
1402 words (4 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)

Mrs. Whipple's Mistreatment of Her Son in Katherine Anne Porter's He Essay

- Mrs. Whipple's Mistreatment of Her Son in Katherine Anne Porter's He The prevailing theme in Katherine Anne Porter's story "He" is Mrs. Whipple's concern over appearances and particularly how her neighbors perceive her actions concerning her retarded son. Many critics have written about Porter's emphasis on appearances in this story. However, what lies under the surface of the story is also interesting. Contrary to both her actions and spoken words, it is clear Mrs. Whipple inwardly feels her retarded son is an animal and that she secretly wishes for his death....   [tags: Katharine Anne Porter He Essays]

Free Essays
1447 words (4.1 pages)

Mrs. Whipple and Her Son in Katherine Porter's He Essay

- Mrs. Whipple and Her Son in Katherine Porter's He In the story "He" by Katherine Porter, the main character Mrs. Whipple is often seen as a cruel, neglectful mother who mistreats her son, and there is ample evidence to support this view. But there is another away to look at Mrs. Whipple: she can also be perceived as a pitiful mother being forced to raise a retarded child that is totally incapable of returning her love. After closer inspection, however, it becomes evident that Mrs. Whipple does the best she can under very harsh circumstances, to raise and nurture her son to the best of her ability....   [tags: Katharine Anne Porter He Essays]

Strong Essays
1224 words (3.5 pages)

Character in Katherine Anne Porter's The Jilting of Granny Weatherall Essay

- Character in Katherine Anne Porter's “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall,” a short story by Katherine Anne Porter, describes the last thoughts, feelings, and memories of an elderly woman. As Granny Weatherall’s life literally “flashes” before her eyes, the importance of the title of the story becomes obvious. Granny Weatherall has been in some way deceived or disappointed in every love relationship of her life. Her past lover George, husband John, daughter Cornelia, and God all did an injustice by what Porter refers to as “jilting.” This unending cycle of wrongdoing caused Granny to be a mixture of strength, bitterness, and ultimate fear as she faces her la...   [tags: The Jilting of Granny Weatherall]

Free Essays
659 words (1.9 pages)