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

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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. She treats her son the way she does out of necessity and therefore should not be hated or pitied for her treatment of Him. In his book,
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Mrs. Whipple feels her neighbors are unfairly judging her because of her son's handicap. She probably knows that they talk about her behind her back and suggest that there is "bad blood" in her family. She also feels guilty about His condition; so she may suspect that it is somehow her fault. Consequently, she feels she must justify herself to them, and is very careful not to do things that will cause them to continually talk about her. Once again, this is a natural response and does not mean she is a bad mother. It can also be suggested that Mrs. Whipple is outright cruel to her son. It seems as if she makes Him do things around the farm that she does not make the others do. For example, she lets Him handle the stinging bees. Her older son Adna always gets stung, yet He does not seem to mind. This is a chore that has to be done, so she lets Him do the job. In addition, making Him capture the small pig from its mother, or lead a dangerous bull home seems unkind. Actually, Adna is unable to capture the pig, and her husband refuses to lead home the bull, so again, out of necessity she has Him do these things. He was made to plow the fields because He is the biggest and strongest and is also able to take over Adna's work when He leaves home. The fact is, she lets Him do all of these things
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