Literary Insight Paper - He

Submitted By salobum
Words: 701
Pages: 3

In Katherine Anne Porter’s He, the theme of self- deception is very prominent which was demonstrated through the character of Mrs. Whipple. She is a mother of a son named He, who is limited in his physical and mental capabilities. In this story, Mrs. Whipple is extremely ashamed of her son, but continuously deceives herself regarding his condition, allowing her to fool herself about the way she actually views and treats him. This is demonstrated through the way she describes him to her peers, and how she overestimates his physical and emotional capabilities.

Throughout the story, it is obvious that Mrs. Whipple is very concerned with how others view and speak of her son, which is why she always feels the need to speak highly of him whenever they are over at her house: “Every time anybody set foot in the house, the subject always came up, and she had to talk about Him first before she could get on to anything else. It seemed to ease her mind.” (87). She is sure to mention how He can do anything, as if he is God-like. To avoid the pity from others and publicizing her shame towards having a child with special needs, she constantly reassures herself and others that he is stronger than her other normal children and that she loves him the most: “Mrs. Whipple loved her second son, the simple-minded one, better than she loved the other two children put together. She was forever saying so” (87). Although in appearance, it may seem that Mrs. Whipple loves her second son the most, as she always speaks so highly of him and defends him when neighbours talk poorly about him, but in reality she is actually ashamed of him and tries to overcompensate by doing such actions. She also cares about her appearance to others, explaining why she tries to camouflage her shame towards him by showering him with loving words in public, in hopes to appear to be a better person.

This sense of self-deception leads Mrs. Whipple to treat He differently than the other children. Since she talks about He as a God-like figure, and is capable of anything, this leads her to force him to do things in an abusive manner. When no one was willing to capture the little pig for dinner, Mrs. Whipple “gives Him a little push towards the (pig) pen”(88) to snatch the little pig from its raging mother. Later on when He gets dirty after an hour after Mrs. Whipple cleans him up, “she boxed him on the ears, hard”(89). Mrs. Whipple’s self-deception makes her blind to the special needs He requires, and instead of catering to those needs, she abusively forces Him to into situations