– Notes and Quotes –
Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980)
The Collected Stories of (1930)
28 stories, 1 long novel
Stories of adulterated childhood and betrayal.
Pulitzer Prize & National Book Award for collected stories
Twice nominated for Nobel Prize, no wins
1st Amendment, freedom of art
synonymous with excellence in letters
Modernism – make it new, build upon it, transform
a kind of genious (Joyce – Ulysses)
1st poem – Texas by the Gulf of Mexico
Wrote kids stories, 1916/17
1st story written for adults
Mexico – release of creative energy, different sense of art
Hired to write articles about the doomed/flawed Mexican revolution
Porter wrote articles opposing this/her viewpoint
She returned to New York, and left again for Mexico at request of Mexican president General Álvaro Obregón Salido.
Maria Concepcion, Virgin Violeta, The Martyr
“Their days of marching, of eating, of quarreling and making love between battles were all over.” (20)
“Paternalism in Mexican system.”
Roman Catholicism as a facade for primitivism.
The murder occurs, is defended by everyone.
Based on code of justice, original familial social norms and mores.
The revolution fails because of the unrealistic changes forced upon the natives.
Educating and suppressing natives – flaws
Diego Rivera – muralist
(“She’s grinding my paints for me.” Too self important, loses sight of the revolution)
Hart Crane – poet
Doom of “mural movement”
Another way to read history for the illiterate.
Porter – deep regret, loss of babies, became an artist as a substitute for motherhood.
Art as religion – imposes order
Pure religion – order out of chaos
Violeta – sexism, paternalism of the system
Magic, Rope, He
Magic – “fancy house”, brothel
indirect accusation of bewitched linens
Rope – love & hate, two necessary forces.
He – The failure of motherhood
Pig snatched from its mother
She loved HIM as much as she could
HIM – moved to something universal, not political
We also find the He Whipple character from He to be in the same sort of situation in that He simply doesn’t know any better and His family inconsiderately takes advantage of His innocence.
The Jilting of Granny Weatherall, Flowering Judas
Order – organized objects of her life
At her death she wanted a sign but saw nothing.
The greatest grief of all.
High degree of direct stream of consciousness, difficult to read
Judas – wearing handmade lace, heresy
Religion – not to be part of revolution
Disentangle involvement of religion and revolution
Betrayers – Bragioni, Laura
Porter – unaware of the sides of the people involved in the revolution.
Laura – can’t love the children, only aspects
Porter – drugs to Joseph Redinger in San Antonio jail.
Natives – learning of their past before colonialists
Great Mother – giver/nurturer of life, sleep, liquor.
Laura – betrays herself, doesn’t care for the children, makes the death of Eugenio possible. Regrets everything, says no, dresses like a nun.
Porter – idealism lasted a week or two of the revolution
Flowering Judas – easter season, springtime, good Friday, effigies, politicians, Judases , exploding, flower, tissue paper innards
Judas – quintessential betrayal
Jilting Granny – stream of consciousness
Joyce – Ulysses – stream of consciousness
Porter – like Hemingway, deceptive and complex content
Modernism – defined by Eliot & Pound
begins with tradition & made new
Porter produces in threes, as in the Divine Comedy
Satire – as in Absalom, Absolom!, or Ulysses
Porter’s best works – Noon Wine, Old Mortality, and Pale Horse, Pale Rider
Rabbit fur coats for dolls, Miss Lucy’s nose bleed
The price of luxury
Eva Parrington – destroys the legend of Amy for Miranda
Miranda – naïve that truth is easy to find
“What is life?”
The title refers to the Scandinavian drinking song that Helton plays on his harmonica.
The story is compared to a Greek tragedy.
Violence, lunacy, blind to truth
Thompson – the protagonist – makes excuses for laziness, trait as a tragic flaw? Aspect, not a character flaw – speaks in violence, dignity, reputation, social w/o physical effort.
The story has similarities to He.
Pride – setting, farms underlying violence
Some similarity to Maria Concepción.
Thompson – Noon Wine – regret for lacking in the now.
Noon Wine & Pale Horse, Pale Rider – two instances of story titles as songs.
Helton – if he’s gone, Thompson and the farm go back to the old ways
Helton is like to Noon Wine – drunk up before noon with nothing left for the rest of the day.
Helton is Thompson’s bread & butter
Thompson – calculating of killing Hatch in greed of keeping success, subconscious killing of Thompson’s own worst self, noisy, proud, inappropriate, laughs/shouts in dealing with Helton.
Helton – the industrious side of Thompson, but both have tempers
An overlap in characters, strangers, Helton/Homer T. Hatch (perhaps the “T.” stands for Thompson)
Mrs. Thompson – Bad vision, sick, frail, meek, delicate, humiliated.
Arthur & Herbert (the boys) – also violent tendencies
Hatch – perseveres law & order
The Old Order
Miranda – Porter’s alter ego
Porter’s siblings – Paul is Paul, Maria is Gay, Baby is written out of the story as a bulldog
Older Miranda – Lady Loreda Bunton
Grave – in real life Miranda ran home and told on Paul who got whipped.
Stories of childhood, family/personal experience
– Sacco & Vanzetti – a witch hunt, linked to Cotton Mather.
Porter researched Skaggs and Porter names in Salem.
Porter a direct descendant of Daniel Boone’s brother.
The story of America, the great American novel
Mexican revolutionaries, hollow & corrupt
Ship of Fools – A Novel
The Old Order – parts of “The Redeemer”
7 pieces constitute the novella/short novel
Nanny – Masella Daney – Aunt Jane
JimBilly – Squire Bunton – owned by the Bunton family in Kentucky
Visit – “stopping with,” to have a visit with
Circus – Miranda – afraid of death, clown, boys, lust without love
displeasure, dwarf, grimace
A journey to experience – from Childhood to adulthood
Fig Tree – Grandmother is old, Nanny takes care of the kids (Victorian manners)
Ceder Creek – Halifax
Aunt Kat – massive family, educated
Pg. 354 – “Another strange way…” Recognizing death & femininity & reproductiveness
Funerals for animals, personal
abortion, stillborn, tree frogs, weep weep
Miranda – feels as life destroyer, not giver
Nanny offer Miranda figs – representative of the womb, refused as a sign of failure
Grave – Grandfather, a Confederate soldier
Gold ring & dove – not a real occurrence, make believe
Gold ring – eternity, marriage, make believe grand lady.
Silver Dove – peace, Christ, spirit symbol, hole in the center
Paul – turns dove over & over with a pleased sober look. Before the dove he had a pleased adventurous look.
Rabbit – pregnant, bloody, trembling. Awareness of suffering (as in Sonny’s Blues, the cup of trembling).
Miranda – felt as though she had always known, enlightenment
The Coda of the Grave – Miranda never told on Paul (in the story)
Miranda goes to Mexico – strange city/country
Marketplace (the market & graves) – marshmallow chickens and rabbits
sweet smells, flowers
corrupt smells, meat
Her mind goes back to the day of the grave treasure.
“Reasonlessly” halted her
The dreadful vision fades
Treasure – compensation, rabbit, death
Spirituality – art of the dove, life/death, reassuring to grown Miranda.
Last glimpse of her on her way to awareness.
Kuno – dog, as in Koonz, Porter’s ex-husband
We never know what the narrator’s troubles are or why she goes to to the Mullers farm (perhaps an abusive husband).
The narrator begins to take Ottilie to Mother Muller’s funeral
Ottilie gets happy, the narrator misunderstood, thought Ottilie wanted to go to the funeral.
Irony – they, we are all fugitives from death
somethings you can’t know
Ottilie – isolated, an alien, alienated, there’s nothing the narrator can do.
A spider web making a connection, spiritual
Truth – hard to understand
Pale Horse, Pale Rider
African American/Negro hymn/work song – disproven to be true
Porter’s “greatest work”
Maria Concepción – polished/tight
Pale Horse – tightly organized
Denver? – takes place, mile high, but never names Denver
Narrator works for the Blue Mountain News
Porter worked for the Rocky Mountain News
Wartime hysteria – well captured
Liberty Bond salesmen – accurate of people of the time
Lush Committee – New York committee, state officials
People – fear of sedition from government officials
Truth – the war ends when the influenza epidemic ends
False – the relationship with Adam (captain America, all American, nature boy)
Perhaps the war is creation? Adam/Eve/Eden = Adam/Miranda/America
The Civil War perverted America
WWI – The great war, the end of isolationism
Irony – Adam dies of influenza
Miranda – the Tempest
Modernist fiction – stream of consciousness
make it believable, characteristic, articulate speech
The story has at least 3 dreams.
Not quite a dream, but seems like it (Freud)
Pg. 273 – Liberty Bond salesmen – “You can pay $5…” “It was hard of course…”
Digested info Miranda is presenting, same with society girls.
Pg. 275 – Society girls’ chatter, “Into the trenches…” Porter’s viewpoints.
The Four Horsemen – war, famine, pestilence, death. Unifying elements of mankind with nature/reality.
Journey of the story – horseback (narrator does not mean to take, to die), Adam’s roadster, ship, taxi, ambulance, and simply wailing through the city.
Miranda dies, Adam’s not there in the afterworld, so she comes back, upon return, Adam has died.
Love drew her back
The stony path – a direct illusion from the Divine Comedy
Blacks, whites, grays
means by which death is achieved
Death betrays life
Adam unintentionally betrays Miranda
Mrs. Hobbes (landlady) – betrays Miranda, throws her out
“What do you think I came back for to be deceived like this?”
The Leaning Tower
The only true races are the peasants who have no means to travel.