Pale Horse, Pale Rider

Porter, Katherine Anne

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Annotated by:
Willms, Janice
  • Date of entry: Apr-03-1997


Miranda's narrative opens with a fretful dream foreshadowing death as the first hint that she is becoming ill during the course of the deadly influenza epidemic of 1917-18. The tightly woven story takes the reader through a month of Miranda's life as a newspaper theatre columnist, a young single woman struggling with a relationship with a soldier about to be "shipped over," and an observer of the World War I frenzy that engulfed America.

The final pages are made up of Miranda's intermittent delirious dreams and perceptions from the depth of her illness. She slowly recovers, only to learn that her Adam has succumbed to the same illness and that the war has ended.


Packed into this beautifully crafted tale is a treasure trove of personal insight into the war and the influenza epidemic, both of which serve as metaphors for the quest for meaning and love in the life of the protagonist. There is some description of the response of the city to the epidemic, and the close view of the effect of illness on perceptions and reactions to the environment are instructive.

Primary Source

Pale Horse, Pale Rider


Harcourt Brace Jovanavich

Place Published

Orlando, Fla.



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