Alienation in Katherine Anne Porter’s “Pale Horse, Pale Rider”
Throughout the entire fictional story that is Katherine Anne Porter’s “Pale Horse, Pale Rider” main character and protagonist Miranda is often feeling alienated, lonely and distant, in more ways than one, from what is actually going on in the real world, which is the influenza pandemic and World War I. Miranda is a character who through most of the plot finds herself feeling like she is always in a state dreaming, and although she had some good in her life at points, like her love interest Adam, she is still always feeling unaware and disconnected from all that is surrounding her. In the beginning, the story actuals starts within one of Miranda’s dreams, this one having been very strange. When Miranda wakes up Porter writes “A single word struck in her mind, a gong of warning, reminding her for the day long what she forgot happily in sleep, and only in sleep” (Porter 282). When Miranda awakens from this dream, we can get our first look into how she is alienated and distant from the real world, as she is basically indicating how dreaming is her happy place, opposed to facing the real world, which includes a pandemic and World War I.
As the story continues, it is now clear a lot of what makes Miranda have dreams that she is so attached to is because of her illness, which is also a part of the reason she felt so lonely all of the time. The last sentences of this story, after Adam’s death and after Miranda starts to recover from her illness gives great insight as to how truly alone and alienated Miranda had been feeling so much through this time in her life. Porter ends the story saying “No more war, no more plague, only the dazed silence that follows the ceasing of the heavy guns; noiseless houses with the shades drawn, empty streets, the dead cold light of tomorrow. Now there would be time for everything” (Porter 330). With this, we now know Miranda really has no one left that was close to her in her life, and with Adam’s death as well, she chooses it as a way to help herself recover from the constant alienation that was always weighing her down. Her loneliness is not gone completely, but she chooses to try and find her way at least a little bit.