Episode 18 Ideology and Sacrament: Katherine Anne Porter’s “Flowering Judas”

Doug and Caren talk over Katherine Anne Porter’s great short story “Flowering Judas.” We start with a bit of background on her life and career, including her conversion to Catholicism and failed marriages, but our focus is on the story itself.

Porter’s craft and technical mastery left an enduring mark on the American short story, including the work of writers like Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty.

“Flowering Judas” is set in the revolutionary upheavals of Mexico, which Porter had experienced firsthand. Laura, the primary character, is a young American woman caught up in larger events but strangely detached from her own life and governed by fear. She cannot love and is not satisfied by her abstract ideology.

Her suppressed sacramental longing, culminating in the potent Eucharistic imagery of the final paragraph, plays a crucial role in the story. Porter, like Graham Greene, had a rocky relationship with the Catholic Church, but it deeply informs her art.

Show notes:

 

Katherine Anne Porter’s Collected Stories. I highly recommend the Library of America’s Katherine Anne Porter: Collected Stories and Other Writings.

If you’ve never read a Paris Review interview with a writer, you’re in for a treat.  The interview with Porter is here.

 

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