Heather's Reviews > Pale Horse, Pale Rider

Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter
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Sep 22, 2008

it was amazing
Read in September, 2008 , read count: 1

Wonderful.

This book is composed of three short novels: "Pale Horse, Pale Rider", "Old Mortality", and "Noon Wine". My favorite was "Pale Horse, Pale Rider", although they were all splendid pieces.

To add tension to a lovestory some element must be present that threatens to keep the lovers apart. In "Romeo and Juliet" it's their families. In "Pale Horse, Pale Rider" it is death. The two young lovers, Miranda and Adam, live in 1918, just before the end of World War I and during the Spanish Flu (Influenza of 1918). Miranda is sick with the flu, although she only suspects it at first, and Adam is to be called to the battlefield in a few days hence. The story focuses on the way people work, live, and love with death so close at hand and touches a bit on being one of the survivors.

"Old Mortality" is a tale of a Southern family that mythologizes their ancestors and lives in the grand old past. This practice binds their members together, but also obscures the truth and warps their young generation's perceptions so that the splendors of their youth never quite matches that of their forebears. Miranda grows up to reject her family, an outcome presented ambivalently by Porter. By rejecting family she rejects the ills of the family, lies and the suffocating rules, and it's good, a place to belong, an inheritance, and a legacy.

"Noon Wine" is an exploration of the destructive effects of guilt. Mr. Helton, who killed his brother in a fit of rage, goes on to live a productive, if isolated, life as a farmhand. He is contrasted with his employer, Mr. Thompson. Mr. Thompson kills a man whom he believes to have stabbed Mr. Helton, but unlike his farmhand he cannot let go of the guilt and eventually ruins his family and commits suicide.
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