Pale Horse, Pale Rider: Three Short Novels Characters

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Pale Horse, Pale Rider: Three Short Novels Summary & Study Guide Description

Pale Horse, Pale Rider: Three Short Novels 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 Topics for Discussion on Pale Horse, Pale Rider: Three Short Novels by Katherine Anne Porter.

Aunt Amyappears in Old Mortality

Although Miranda's Aunt Amy is dead long before Miranda is born, Amy dominates the entire story. Amy is the sister of Miranda's father, Harry, but she dies young. As a child, Miranda is always hearing about how beautiful and spirited Amy was and nothing is ever as charming or lovely as Amy. No fine example of horsemanship, elegant dress, or graceful dancing can favorably compare to Amy and Amy seems to be a sort of goddess to Miranda, who wishes she could be more like her deceased aunt. As an adult, Miranda learns that Amy was not the angel everyone remembered, but a thoughtless and selfish girl obsessed with her own popularity, who lived for partying. Miranda also learns that Amy may have committed suicide in disgrace, after getting pregnant and then eloping with a man she did not love.

Amy plays an interesting role in the story as she shows how glamorous it is to die young, in the peak of one's youth. Amy never has a chance to get old and fade and she never has to face the consequences of her capricious behavior. Instead, Amy becomes sweeter, more entertaining, more beautiful, and funnier in memory, so that no living family member can ever compare to her. Most people forget that Amy was always getting into trouble or how she flirted with every man around.

Royal Earle Thompsonappears in Noon Wine

Mr. Thompson is a farmer in south Texas in the early Twentieth Century, but not a very good one. He marries a delicate Sunday School teacher, but is disappointed when the life of a poor farm wife prematurely wears her down, leaving her sick most of the time. They have two sons, Arthur and Herbert, but Mr. Thompson does not spend much time with his sons. Mr. Thompson is preoccupied with a notion of looking dignified, and to this end, he only does certain types of work which he considers to be appropriate for the man of the house. Unfortunately, this leaves a lot of work undone, and he lazily frets about what to do about this, while his farm falls apart for neglect. Mr. Thompson does not worry about the appearance of being a bad farmer and a bad provider for his family. He does what he can to keep from paying real wages to his hired hands. Mr. Thompson does not like to admit to himself that he is a violent, harsh man, but his actions show that he is, through his rough treatment of his wife. Finally, Mr. Thompson kills a man in a moment of passion and confusion, and afterward is wracked with guilt, wondering if he is a murderer. The only way out that he can find is to kill himself.

Mr. Olaf Heltonappears in Noon Wine

Mr. Helton is a hard-working Swedish farmhand who loves to play the harmonica. He talks so little that no one knows he is an escaped mental patient who killed his own brother.

Mirandaappears in Old Mortality and Pale Horse, Pale Rider

"Old Mortality" is told through Miranda's point of view. Miranda is a little Victorian girl who craves adventure and romance, but is instead protected and kept safe. She and her sister feel that their convent boarding school is unbearably dull, so instead Miranda daydreams about becoming a jockey or a tightrope walker who plays violin. Miranda loves hearing glamorous stories about her Aunt Amy, who died young, and as a child, Miranda imagines losing her freckles and being like Aunt Amy someday, with an appropriately beautiful death. Once she is older, Miranda realizes that she must live her own life, not repeating the experiences of the people who have gone before her. Nevertheless, Miranda defies her parents and elopes, which is just the sort of thing Amy would do.

"Pale Horse, Pale Rider" also takes place later in Miranda's life, when she is struggling to make ends meet as a newspaper reporter. Miranda feels helpless to admit that she does not want to support World War I, and she feels a sort of desperation. After she almost dies of influenza, Miranda wishes she were dead.

Miss Honeyappears in Old Mortality

Miss Honey is Uncle Gabriel's second wife. She is very bitter about her lot in life and she hates his family.

Cousin Evaappears in Old Mortality

Miranda's Cousin Eva is an ugly old maid, and suffers cruel taunts in the family's social circle. However, she becomes even less popular when she decides to work for votes for women. Eva goes to jail several times in her fight, but she does not regret it.

Uncle Gabrielappears in Old Mortality

Miranda's Uncle Gabriel finally convinces Aunt Amy to marry him, only to have her die six weeks later. Gabriel spends his second marriage mourning Amy.

Ellie Thompsonappears in Noon Wine

Ellie is a worn-out farm wife who finds that life is usually too hard for her. When her husband kills a man and makes her lie about it, she feels that she can not go on.

Mr. Hatchappears in Noon Wine

Mr. Hatch is a bounty hunter who rounds up escaped mental patients in order to collect rewards. He is a fat, despicable man, and Mr. Thompson kills him when he attacks Mr. Helton.

Adamappears in Pale Horse, Pale Rider

Adam is a dashing young soldier on leave for two weeks. He and Miranda fall in love, but then he dies of influenza.

Mary Townsend, or Towneyappears in Pale Horse, Pale Rider

Towney is the gossip reporter at Miranda's newspaper. Towney and Miranda have both been demoted for being too kind-hearted.

Chuckappears in Pale Horse, Pale Rider

Chuck is the sports reporter at the newspaper, and a friend of Miranda's. He can not go to war because he has bad lungs.

Billappears in Pale Horse, Pale Rider

Bill is the editor-in-chief at Miranda's newspaper. He orders an ambulance for Miranda when she has influenza.

Miss Tannerappears in Pale Horse, Pale Rider

Miss Tanner is the nurse who saves Miranda's life.

Mariaappears in Old Mortality

Maria is Miranda's sister who is four years older. They go to boarding school together.

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