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Character Analysis of Katherine Anne Porter's He Essay example

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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.
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In addition, Mrs. Whipple shows "public concern" for her son, but behind closed doors he does not get special, or even equal, treatment. In addition, Mrs. Whipple shows "public concern" for her son, but behind closed doors he does not get special, or even equal, treatment. When he climbed trees or later goes to get the bull, Mrs. Whipple is not worried about His safety but what the neighbors will think if he gets hurt. She is petrified that someone would say she had neglected her duties. However, when Emly gets cold, she gets His blankets (325). Although Mrs. Whipple makes grand demonstrations to her neighbors, He seems somewhat exploited in the household. Even after he becomes ill, he works in the field. After his illness during the winter, "He walked as if His feet hurt Him." The very next sentence, though, tells us that despite this, "He was able to run a cotton planter during the season" (329). A genuine concern for His welfare would not lead to such actions. If Mrs. Whipple really feared for his life as much as she said she did, she would exhibit and act on a desire to protect him, regardless of whether the neighbors were watching.

Mrs. Whipple's worry about appearances extends beyond her behavior toward Him. When her brother visits, she insists that they slaughter a pig, despite the fact that the family will need it later. Instead of presenting an honest view of her family life, she creates an "illusion
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