31 pages 1 hour read

Katherine Anne Porter

Pale Horse, Pale Rider

Fiction | Novella | Adult | Published in 1939

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Character Analysis


Miranda begins the story as a detached, alienated figure. Even before her ordeal, she surveyed the state of the world and found little cause for optimism. The contrast between her vivid dreams and the banal nature of her actual life highlights her situation. The story’s opening passages describe her dream, in which she rides a horse through the beautiful countryside. A nameless stranger pursues her, however, reminding her that this is a dream and that she must eventually return to the real world. In the real world, Miranda must deal with the dull problems of day-to-day existence. Despite the global war and the looming specter of a pandemic, Miranda worries most about her bills, how to deal with the Liberty Bond salesmen, and how to avoid social obligations. Miranda is so detached from the world in general that she doesn’t have time for concern about the war or the pandemic. These are simply horrible facts of life that she can do nothing about. Instead, she worries about the details of her life, such as obtaining sugar and paying her bills. The vividness of her dreams and the mundanity of her waking life portray the stark reality of Miranda’s dull, nihilistic existence.