Pale Horse, Pale Rider

by Katherine Anne Porter

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Give a short plot summary identifying the exposition, rising action, climax, and falling action or resolution.

"Pale Horse, Pale Rider" is a short story that is perfect to teach plot. The exposition introduces the characters and their jobs, while the rising action details Miranda's interaction with the Liberty Bond Salesman. The climax comes when Miranda becomes sick and Adam nurses her at home.

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"Pale Horse, Pale Rider" is a perfect story to teach plot.  Its four plot elements are easily determined.

First, the exposition is all about Miranda and her experience at the paper. It's important to note her colleagues, and how they always seem to be inadequate, giving Miranda a reason to hope for more. 

Next, the rising action begins with Miranda's interactions with the Liberty Bond Salesman which provides the entrance to the thoughts of war.  We begin to see Miranda recoil from the reality of the war and focus on minute details.  Even with her love, Adam, Miranda focuses on his beauty and his being "olive and tan and tawny” rather than the fact that he is about to join the fight. 

Two persons named Adam and Miranda, twenty four years old each, alive and on earth at the same moment: 'Are you in the mood for dancing?' and 'I'm always in the mood for dancing, Adam!' but there were things in the way, the day that ended with dancing was a long way to go.

Suspense climbs when Miranda gets the flu and is close to death, but due to overcrowded hospitals, Adam tries to nurse her at home.  The climax of the plot comes when Miranda is taken to the hospital (due to interference at the paper where she works) while Adam is out getting medicine.  Adam isn't able to visit until permitted by the doctors. 

The resolution is when Miranda recovers and escapes her vivid dreams and hallucinations due to the flu.  The Armistice has also occurred, so the war is over.  Unfortunately, when she reads her mail, she learns that Adam has died of the flu himself.  It is not a positive resolution as Miranda now lives in a “dazed silence” with only the “dead cold light of tomorrow” to lead her.

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