This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of Flowering Judas by Katherine Anne Porter. “Flowering Judas” is a short story by American. In an interview with Barbara Thompson (Writers at Work, ) Katherine Anne Porter said she always wrote the. Katherine Anne Porter often spoke of her story “Flowering Judas” as the tale she liked best of all her stories because it came the nearest to what she meant it to.

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Laura, an adventurous young woman from the southwest U. At age twenty-two, she resembles Katherine Anne Porter herself, who traveled often to Mexico in her thirties, after the war ended.

Despite her distaste for the powerful leader Braggioni, she endures his oppressive, off-key serenades. Risking her safety for a dream of social justice, she notes flaws in an international enterprise that operates by means of deception and exploitation.

The gringa Laura is an unlikely player in the Mexican revolution. Her little betrayals of the Socialist cause seem fairly insignificant. She insists on handmade lace rather than products of the worshipped machine. A Roman Catholic convent graduate, like the author, she pauses now and then in a church to indulge her religious tendencies, also forbidden by the revolutionaries.

Teaching children English in Xochimilco by day, smuggling secret messages and sleeping pills to prisoners by night, she appears brave and daring, yet exhibits fear in many forms. The anxiety Laura lives by reveals the lack of faith she feels in her project and manifests itself most clearly in the nightmarish scene at the end of the story.


The clear betrayal, when she fails to save or even connect with the martyred Eugenio, manifests her inability to live fully in the world, in the service of a genuine, human cause, including that of her own fulfillment. True peril lies in her would-be suitors. Nevertheless, her body itself strives to protect her, as Porter writes in the style of literary naturalism: Braggioni, a powerful, flawed figurehead, leads the Socialist insurrection under Pascual Ortiz Rubio in his region of Mexico City.

A complicated character, he seems a buffoon at times, a manipulator, an apocalyptic visionary, and an indiscriminate user of women. Near the end of the story, Braggioni glorifies images of total destruction: If Braggioni fails to fit the bill of a true revolutionist, so does Laura. The author plays up the flowerimg similarities between the young seeker and the coarse commander by drawing parallels between the two. Such affectations and indulgences seem out of place in a cause that proclaims freedom for the peasants and for political prisoners in tortuous conditions.

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Flowering Judas

The illusions Laura had about joining a great revolutionary movement to better society prove false. Braggioni, the supposed great leader, is a gluttonous sham. I prefer them all. Her temptation to trade feelings of self-pity for action proves dangerous, especially because many of the activities she does carry out seem hardly worthy of lofty ideals of political improvement.

For example, she moves money between the Romanian and Polish agitators, both of whom are being shamelessly used by the Mayan-Italian Braggioni. Despite his hard-hearted dismissal of Eugenio, he seems quite moved by the loss after all. So he is at once a brute symbol of violent revolution, and a more ironically rounded, human figure, a false martyr to balance the true sacrifice to despair, Eugenio.


In the final dream-scene, a skeletal Eugenio calls Laura a murdererand beckons her to a new country, to death. Laura experiences a deeply sensual capitulation to the great feeling behind her paradoxically daring and timid revolutionary activity.

Flowering Judas | short story by Porter |

Denied his guiding hand, Laura devours the lush blossoms of the Judas tree he feeds her. Her literal hunger and thirst signal further corruption rather than spiritual communion. In the presence of an un-resurrected Eugenio, Laura can no longer repress her human need for connection, nor her affective responses of wonder and compassion. Yet porte remains confused, fragmented, and alienated, as she wakes trembling with a cry.

Porter typically started her aanne by writing the final line first and this example pulls inexorably towards its surrealist end. Forthright Quotes by Katherine Anne Porter. If the product is purchased by linking through, Literary Ladies Guide receives a modest commission, which helps maintain our site and helps it to continue growing!

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