Notes and Quotes – The Collected Stories of (1930), Katherine Anne Porter

– 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.

(Cupiditas/Caritas )

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

Pure articulated


Violeta – sexism, paternalism of the system



Magic, Rope, He

Magic – “fancy house”, brothel

indirect accusation of bewitched linens

Blanchard/white, Madame/black


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



Old Mortality

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?”



Noon Wine

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.




Anti-transcendental story

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.