Character Analysis of Braggioni in Katherine Anne Porter's 'Flowering Judas'

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The character of Braggioni in Katherine Anne Porter's "Flowering Judas" is defined by his contradictions. He is a radical revolutionary described by his followers as "a leader of men, a skilled revolutionist, and his skin has been punctured in honorable warfare" (91). Nevertheless he dresses like a wealthy fop, showing off an imported silk handkerchief and confiding "I have a taste for elegant refinements" (93). He is more likely to be seen playing his guitar and singing a corrido than engaged in guerilla warfare. We also associate revolutionaries with ideals of justice and compassion for the poor and downtrodden, whom Braggioni purports to represent politically yet Porter makes it clear that he is hardly a bleeding heart, but instead is a man of vast "cruelty and vanity". In fact, he seems to exhibit no generalized love for mankind that might be associated with egalitarian political sentiments instead we are told that "Braggioni is cruel to everyone, with a kind of specialized insolence, but he is so vain of his talents, and so sensitive to slights, it would require a cruelty and vanity greater than his own to lay a finger on the vast cureless wound of his self-esteem" (90-91). It becomes clear that his radical politics are not the result of compassion but of resentment. The larger contradiction, however, is to see how this man of action, a professional revolutionary, seems to demonstrate physical signs of inaction only. He is dandified, sentimental, and above all fat.

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