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In "He" by Katherine Anne Porter, what methods are used to characterize Mrs. Whipple? 

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john18 | Honors

Posted September 15, 2013 at 5:09 PM via web

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In "He" by Katherine Anne Porter, what methods are used to characterize Mrs. Whipple? 

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 16, 2013 at 6:01 AM (Answer #1)

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It is clear from the opening paragraphs that the life the Whipples lead is one that is not to be envied. Note how Mrs. Whipple is presented in this opening section of the short story, and the very clear image that it creates of her character and the kind of woman we imagine her to be:

“It looks like our luck won’t never let up on us,” said Mr. Whipple, but Mrs. Whipple was all for taking what was sent and calling it good, anyhow when the neighbors were in earshot. “Don’t ever let a soul hear us complain,” she kept saying to her husband. She couldn’t stand to be pitied. “No, not if it comes to it that we have to live in a wagon and pick cotton around the country,” she said, “nobody’s going to get a chance to look down on us."

Even though, therfore, "life was very hard" for them as a family, and it is clear from what Mr. Whipple says that he feels they have had a particularly bad run of events that seem to have conspired against them, at the same time, Mrs. Whipple is a character who is determined to try and see the good in her situation. She is clearly a very proud woman through her hatred of being "pitied," and her resolution that nobody will "get a chance to look down on us." Even though she is a woman who endures hardships, she is very focused on how she and her family appear to others and she is definitive about how she does not want to be an object of pity. Characterisation therefore occurs both through what Mrs. Whipple says but also the information that the narrator reveals to the reader. Both of these sources give the reader valuable information that can be used to build up a picture of her character.

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