Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




She had spent years of strategic warfare trying to beat those people out of her life; then more years trying to ignore them; to forget them; to hate them; and in the end she loved them as she knew well she was meant in simple nature to do, and acknowledged it; it brought her no peace, and yet it put a certain solid ground under her feet.

The preceding passage from Katherine Anne Porter 's Ship of Fools reveals the rebellious thoughts of a young American artist named Jenny, an almost autobiographical heroine, who inveighs against the pragmatic women in her past who had dedicated themselves to her "raising." The willful Jenny suggests as do many of Miss Porter's memorable female protagonists, the author's empathy for the contemporary woman who must confront a complex society which demands that she stand up and be counted in one rank or another. Is she modern or old-fashioned? It is my feeling that Jenny and her idealistic counterparts are forever haunted by the memory of those moral monitors who, like those responsible for Jenny's "raising," had stood foursquare for "order the only reality in a world without fixed authority or refuge." Katherine Anne Porter, acknowledging the necessity of giving "true testimony," presents both poles of modernity and tradition by faithfully re-creating the two familiar prototypes with the dispassionate coolness that is her hallmark.