Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Porter is known for her rich, descriptive narratives. The detail and highly symbolic imagery in the story contribute immensely to the story’s themes, as well as providing suspense and enjoyment for the reader. Much of this imagery sets up ironic contrast, producing even more tension in the story. The civilized world of María Concepción, for example, includes ancient, thorny cacti, representing the customs, superstitions, and dangers that María Concepción herself cannot escape. María Rosa’s honey is something that even María Concepción desires. The butchering of animals throughout foreshadows and intensifies the violent form María Concepción’s revenge takes. Religious imagery underpins the action as well. Juan is simultaneously posed as a boy and as a Christ-figure, to underscore his irresponsibility as well as his innocence or victimhood in the hands of Givens and María Concepción. María Concepción is likened to the Virgin Mary as she holds María Rosa’s son, creating a chilling, thought-provoking picture of her newfound “strange, wakeful happiness.”


(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.