Good writing should entertain you and great writing should stay with you and
cause you to think.
When I first read some of Miss Porter’s work, I came away feeling depressed, empty and wondering why she even wrote. Her stories seemed unfinished, incomplete and pointless. However, I find myself thinking about those works, discovering new things and realizing a deeper meaning in the stories.
Katherine Anne Porter’s stories are brilliant, vivid snapshots of lives, and reveal the foolishness of man. Everyone sees life from their own perspective and bases their actions and thoughts on personal experiences. Some of her characters will never see past their own noses, while others cannot get the courage to change. Reality clashes with dreams in many stories, and can leave disillusionment or despair.
In Miss Porter’s short story, Maria Concepción, the title character finds her dream shattered when she discovers her husband is having an affair. The husband runs off with the other woman, but they return the next year. Maria Concepción loses her baby during the year, but the rival gives birth when she returns. Maria Concepción stabs her rival to death. Her husband (and the entire village) protect her and proclaim her innocence, even though they know she is guilty. In the end, she takes the rival’s baby as her own, and reclaims her husband. He is miserable, but she is happy. She has gotten what she wanted, and restored her dream. (Porter, Maria Concepción 9-27)
This should make us think about our own actions. Do the ends justify the means Is our dream worth the cost? Many live only for themselves and never consider the wants and needs of others. I believe Miss Porter intended the reader to think about these things and, perhaps, change our little corner of the world.
In another short story, The Grave, Miss Porter details an incident in the lives of a young brother and sister. The children are hunting, when they come upon their family cemetery. The graves have been moved, leaving rectangular holes in the ground. Jumping into the empty graves, the children dig around in the soil to look for treasures. They each find something and happily continue their hunt for game. She has a new gold ring, and he a dove-shaped coffin screw head.
When a rabbit jumps in front of them, the boy shoots it. As he is skinning it, he realizes it is pregnant and reveals the unborn babies. The children are overwhelmed with the reality of the babies never being born - life within life and death within death. They hide the body and decide never to tell anyone what has happened.
Almost twenty years later, as the girl “was picking her path among the puddles and crushed refuse of a market street in a strange city of a strange country” (Porter, The Grave 380), she was suddenly reminded of the incident. As a vendor held up a tray of sweets shaped like baby animals the sounds and smells returned her memory to the former day. Vividly, she saw her brother as a twelve-year...