Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The dark and unpleasant atmosphere of Berlin and its impact on Charles is made vivid through Katherine Anne Porter’s use of animal imagery, which sometimes borders on caricature. Repeatedly, she turns to various animals to help her characterize the people of Berlin whom Charles finds so distasteful. They are often compared to pigs who waddle down the sidewalk or who have enormous rolls of fat across their backs. In one remarkable scene, porcine Berliners gather to gaze longingly at a shop window full of hams, sausages, and bacon, next to another window displaying various pigs made of candy, wood, or metal. Porter then describes these Berliners as “shameless mounds of fat” standing “in a trance of pig worship, gazing with eyes damp with admiration and appetite.” A description of the landladies of the city brings forth a torrent of unpleasant animal comparisons: “They were smiling foxes, famished wolves, slovenly house cats, mere tigers, hyenas, furies.” In addition to animals, Porter focuses on the furnishings of rooms and the decorations of Berlin to emphasize the essential grotesquerie of the city. Charles at one point closely examines a dozen repulsive pottery cupids on a steep roof and speculates on the unrefined taste of their owners.

The season of the year also helps to underscore symbolically Charles’s psychological state. Besides the darkness of late December, the dying year is an appropriate time for the demise of Charles’s...

(The entire section is 481 words.)

The Leaning Tower Bibliography

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Austenfeld, Thomas Carl. American Women Writers and the Nazis: Ethics and Politics in Boyle, Porter, Stafford, and Hellman. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2001.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Katherine Anne Porter: Modern Critical Views. New York: Chelsea House, 1986.

Brinkmeyer, Robert H. Katherine Anne Porter’s Artistic Development: Primitivism, Traditionalism, and Totalitarianism. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993.

Busby, Mark, and Dick Heaberlin, eds. From Texas to the World and Back: Essays on the Journeys of Katherine Anne Porter. Fort Worth: TCU Press, 2001.

Fornataro-Neil, M. K. “Constructed Narratives and Writing Identity in the Fiction of Katherine Anne Porter.” Twentieth Century Literature 44 (Fall, 1998): 349-361.

Givner, Joan. Katherine Anne Porter: A Life. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982.

Hartley, Lodwick, and George Core, eds. Katherine Anne Porter: A Critical Symposium. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1969.

Spencer, Virginia, ed.“Flowering Judas”: Katherine Anne Porter. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1993.

Stout, Janis. Katherine Anne Porter: A Sense of the Times. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995.

Walsh, Thomas F. Katherine Anne Porter and Mexico. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992.