Pale Horse, Pale Rider Essay - Masterplots II: Women’s Literature Series Pale Horse, Pale Rider Analysis

Katherine Anne Porter

Masterpieces of Women's Literature Pale Horse, Pale Rider Analysis

The manner of “Old Mortality” and “Pale Horse, Pale Rider” is intimate, as if the narrator were almost inside the character of Miranda, which is not surprising in view of the fact that Porter uses the character to present a version of her own experiences. The action of “Old Mortality” is seen in terms of its effect on the two sisters, but chiefly Miranda. The sisters are not at the center of the action until the latter part of the story, but the behavior of Aunt Amy, Gabriel, and the other figures is seen in terms of its impact on them.

In “Pale Horse, Pale Rider,” Miranda is the central character, the focus of all the narration, and in several places the narration becomes an internal monologue which conveys the delirium that accompanies her illness. This is especially important because it is in those passages that Miranda imagines death, in terms of a song remembered from her childhood, as a pale rider coming for her on horseback. It is also in one of those passages that the fevered imagery based on wartime hatred of Germans comes to be focused on the doctor in Miranda’s own fever. The tragic mood of the ending of the story is made especially moving by the contrast between Miranda’s deep depression and the elation of the other characters at the ending of the war.

“Noon Wine,” in contrast to the other stories, is told by an omniscient narrator who has no emotional commitment to any of the characters. Helton is in some...

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