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Introduction & Overview of He by Katherine Anne Porter

This Study Guide consists of approximately 75 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of He.
This section contains 411 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
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He Summary & Study Guide Description

He Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading on He by Katherine Anne Porter.

Introduction

Katherine Anne Porter's short story "He" was first published in the leftist magazine New Masses (1927), and collected and published in the book Flowering Judas in 1930. Porter struggled for a long time to be recognized by one of the large publishing houses, and only after several of her literary friends wrote letters to Harcourt, their publisher, urging the editors there to read her works, did Porter finally succeed. Although Harcourt eventually accepted Porter's work and agreed to publish her, she was humiliated by their lack of confidence in her stories. They chose only six stories to include in the collection, and they printed only six hundred copies, a sign that they did not believe her collection would sell. Little did Porter know that that year, the same publisher had turned down William Faulkner's classic work, The Sound and the Fury, a fact that Porter's biographer, Joan Givner, states would not have, however, impressed Porter, as "she was not an admirer" of Faulkner's writing.

The short story "He" exposes another type of humiliation for Porter as it covers a brief stretch of time in the life of a poor but proud family, one that mirrors, in many ways, Porter's own early memories. Like Porter, who would later become somewhat obsessed with buying fancy clothes and jewelry to erode the early poverty she experienced and to impress upon the world that she was a success, so too is Mrs. Whipple, the protagonist in the story, focused on appearances. For instance, Mrs. Whipple has her husband kill a suckling pig to convince her brother, when he comes to visit, that her family is doing well. Appearances are as important to Mrs. Whipple as they were to Porter. Every one of Mrs. Whipple's actions is determined by what the neighbors will think of her. That is why she is so distraught, so torn up inside, about her son, who is obviously not like other children. The story revolves around Mrs. Whipple's struggle to come to terms with her son, to make him appear as normal as possible, and to find some way to love him. Or, read in a different light, the story might be interpreted as being about Mrs. Whipple trying to find some way to forgive herself for not loving him. Either way, the story fits into a pattern of stories that Porter wrote in which characters cannot speak and are left to the whims of people around them to define them.

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This section contains 411 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our He Study Guide
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He from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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