In Noon Wine Porter examines the theme of guilt, the adulterated nature of human motivation. Essentially a good man, Mr. Thompson commits murder and suicide in the course of the story. Feeling the weight of his guilt and wanting to convince himself and his neighbors that he did not kill Mr. Hatch, the bounty hunter, from base motives but only to defend Helton from attack, Thompson simply cannot overcome the fact that he instantly disliked Hatch on meeting him.
While trying to show his neighbors his innocence, Thompson compounds his guilt by making his wife lie to protect him. Still trying to convince his neighbors, his family and himself of his blameless motives, Thompson commits suicide.