He Topics for Further Study
by Katherine Anne Porter

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Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

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Research the history and philosophy of eugenics in the United States. How did this philosophy affect legislation passed during the early part of the twentieth century in regard to people who were mentally challenged? Do you see any relationship between eugenics and contemporary research in genetics?

The Dust Bowl of the 1930s devastated much of the farmlands in the southern Plains. Research all the causes that created the enormous dust storms and soil erosion of that era. How have the lands and the farming practices changed since then?

The Whipples’ son He is entirely mute through this short story. Create a diary for him in which he discusses the emotions he experiences throughout the events of this short story, including entries that He writes upon watching his mother leave him at the sanitarium.

Katherine Anne Porter, according to her biographers, was obsessed with creating an image for herself. To this extent, she made up a family history and spent most of her money on clothes and jewelry. Read a biography of Porter, then examine how similar she is to the character of Mrs. Whipple. What things about them are the same, other than the obvious that they were both very much into appearances.

Research the difficulties of raising a child who is mentally challenged. Then write a letter to Mrs. Whipple as if you were her counselor, helping her to understand her son, to deal with her neighbors, and any other topics about which you consider Mrs. Whipple needs assistance to better prepare her for the task.