The Moral Path: Personal Responsibility and Altruism in the Works of Katherine Anne Porter
Katherine Anne Porterâ€™s fiction forces readers to question charactersâ€™ morality. Porter deals with â€œhuman frailty, human limitation, and the human capacity for evilâ€ (Unrue 7). Many of her characters fail to understand their own weakness. As Janis P. Stout points out, â€œthe troubled complexity [of Porter] makes her, at times, a difficult or even disturbing object of study. It also makes her a deeply human oneâ€”not one of the Olympians, but a flawed, irritating, and often appealing human being much like oneselfâ€ (266). Many of Porterâ€™s works end without a clear message; posing questions without apparent answers for her readers. Porter continuously shows that following the moral path is often choosing the most difficult path. This paper will examine Porterâ€™s novel Ship of Fools and her short stories â€œFlowering Judas,â€ â€œHe,â€ â€œMaria Conception,â€ and â€œNoon Wineâ€ to illustrate how personal responsibility and altruism are central to Porterâ€™s definition of morality.