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Appearance Versus Reality In Katharine Anne Porter's He

1417 words - 6 pages

Appearance Versus Reality in Katharine Anne Porter's He

So many memories came to my mind while reading this story! I grew up in a family (or at least one side of that family) who always cared and worried about what other people thought! Most obviously, the short story, "He," by Katharine Anne Porter is about appearance vs. reality and living with a disabled child. But I also believe the story is about life, the hardships of life, poverty, the innocence of children, the trust children put into their parents, the gossip of small towns, the resentment and bitterness of the hardships of life, being a mother, rural life, denial, guilt, and compassion.

Most importantly, however, I ...view middle of the document...

Mrs. Whipple must always take care of Him first before anyone else since he cannot fend for himself. She "gets tired trying to keep [Him] decent" (327).

This scene also shows how resentful Mrs. Whipple is of just being a mother and the everyday struggle to keep up and take care of the children. She seems resentful when she must look after the three kids right before her brother comes to visit when she says, "I'm just all gone before the day starts" (327). Being a mother is a difficult task, especially for people who must do it by themselves. Mrs. Whipple even hints of a "mother's love" (324) and the duties of being a mother that aren't "expected so much of fathers" (324) by people.

In addition, Mrs. Whipple is very resentful of their poverty and blames most of it on her husband. "It seemed to Mrs. Whipple that they hadn't ever known anything but hard times" (328), and she "kept thinking all the time it was terrible to have a man you couldn't depend on not to get cheated" (329). Mrs. Whipple even yells at her husband for "speaking plainly" (324) about her brother's visit, for he provokes her when he says, "It's easy to be polite when you come o eat. Who know what they had in their minds all along?" (328). Mrs. Whipple goes absolutely nuts and yells at her husband that he "never liked her family" (328) anyway.

Mrs. Whipple's resentment towards her husband also shows when she must butcher the pig, which, she says, is a "man's work . . . it was simply a shame the way things had to happen" (327).

Through all the difficulties that the Whipple's must face, Mrs. Whipple complains, worries, and blames everyone but herself. She is so dramatic when she says, "I wish I were dead" (328), for the hardships of life are too overwhelming for a person with her temperament. She cries several times in the story and just feels "tired" (327) and "spent" (327) day after day, taking care of the children and worrying about money. I remember my mom used to just sit and cry sometimes, for no apparent reason. I guess because so many things build up in a person's life that the weight of the burden feels like a ton and you just feel like you cannot take anymore. This is the feeling I get about Mrs. Whipple.

The story is also about appearance vs. reality, shown most explicitly through Mrs. Whipple. For example, throughout the entire story, even in the most sad parts, Mrs. Whipple always makes a comment about what others will think of her and her family. Even in the first paragraph Mrs. Whipple says to her husband, "Don't ever let a soul hear us complain" (324), even though, ironically, she complains all the time. She is trying to be something she is not in front of other people. Mrs. Whipple wants people to believe that they are not as poor as they are, shown when her husband is...

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