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Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 590

Katherine Anne Porter's Pale Horse, Pale Rider is a collection of three short novels published in 1939.

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The titles of the novels are Old Mortality, Noon Wine, and Pale Horse, Pale Rider. Each has a different set of characters. Here, we will go over the main characters in each.

In the titular story, Pale Horse, Pale Rider, there are two main characters:

Miranda: A young woman who works at a newspaper in Denver. She's in a romantic relationship with Adam, and she's anxious about the fact that he might be called to war at any moment. She falls ill from influenza, but recovers after a hospital stay.

Adam: A soldier who's waiting to be called to action in World War I. He takes care of Miranda when she first gets sick (the influenza epidemic is raging), but while she's in the hospital, he succumbs to the illness himself. He dies before Miranda wakes up from a coma-like period of unconsciousness, much to his girlfriend's surprise and torment.

Moving on to Noon Wine. There are several key characters here:

Royal Earle Thompson: A dairy farmer who lives with his wife and children on a Texas farm in the 1890s. He employs Olaf Helton, and later gets mixed up in a conflict that has to do with Helton's past, and he (Thompson, the farmer) kills a man. Thompson is acquitted in trial but suffers immensely, fearing that his wife and children no longer trust him. He commits suicide by shotgun at the end of the story.

Olaf Helton: A Swedish farm hand that finds employment at Thompson's dairy farm. One day, while at work, a shadowy figure from Helton's past shows up at the farm, demanding that Helton return to the mental institution where he belongs (and accusing Helton, in front of his employer, the farmer, of having committed terrible crimes in the past). Thompson kills the man during the conflict.

Homer T. Hatch: A mysterious man who shows up at Thompson's farm, claiming that Helton is a criminal and that he must return to the mental hospital where he belongs. Hatch seems impulsive and potentially dangerous; he's killed on the spot by the farmer, Thompson, who later goes on to kill himself.

In the last novel, Old Mortality:

Miranda : The...

(The entire section contains 590 words.)

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Critical Essays