Introduction & Overview of Holiday

This Study Guide consists of approximately 21 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Holiday.
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Holiday Summary & Study Guide Description

Holiday 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 For Further Reading on Holiday by Katherine Anne Porter.

“Holiday” by Katherine Anne Porter originally appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in December 1960 but received more attention when it was included in The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter in 1965. The story, however, had much earlier origins; Porter first wrote “Holiday” in the early 1920s, based on a personal experience she had had several years earlier. Unsatisfied with the story, she set it aside and did not rediscover it until 1960, when she enlisted a friend to help her organize her personal papers. As she wrote in her introduction to The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter, “the story haunted me for years and I made three separate versions, with a certain spot in all three where the thing went off track. So I put it away . . . and I forgot it. It rose from one of my boxes of papers, after a quarter of a century, and . . . I saw at once that the first [version] was the right one.” After a few minor changes, she sent it to the Atlantic Monthly. She won an O. Henry prize for the story in 1962.

“Holiday” tells the tale of a young woman who, seeking to escape her troubles, takes a holiday to a rural Texas farm owned by a very traditional German family. The story centers on her relationship with the family's deformed and crippled servant girl. Later she discovers the girl is actually the eldest daughter of the family, though she is virtually a slave in the household. The main character's fascination and identification with this girl allows Porter to explore themes of alienation, isolation, and the complete sacrifice of an individual for the good of the greater community (in this case, the family). Like much of Porter's work, the story is drawn from her own experiences, and many critics believe that the main character (whose name the reader never learns) is Porter herself, describing her own alienation as a woman artist in a patriarchal society.

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