Character Analysis: Does Wallace Porter-Or What It Means To See The Elephant

Good Essays
Considering the plea that George urged to Wallace Porter in order to aid him, it answers why Porter bought the circus, he saw the elephant. “Seeing the elephant” expresses someone who experiences a tragic event in which he or she did not desire but ended up learning from it; well, at least Wallace Porter did. In Cathy Day’s story, “Wallace Porter- or What It Means to See the Elephant” from her novel, The Circus in the Winter, she writes about generations of the Great Porter Circus who were all centered in Lima, Indiana. Wallace Porter owned the Great Porter Circus in which he bought from Clyde Hollenbach. The circus used to be called Hollenbach’s Menagerie under Hollenbach’s ownership, though after long, difficult years, he had no way of paying…show more content…
When Porter encountered George, it pained him to witness the suffering animal as Day stated, “George’s sad eye fixed on Porter like a plea, and he had to look away” (Day 17). The plea that George gave Porter symbolizes his experience in the war considering that the Calvary men Porter fought alongside by were also pleading for the war to be over. Not only that, but George’s sad eyes symbolize the pain the Union Calvary men underwent as they were dying. As Porter repressed his memory of the war while talking to Irene, he remembered what happens in the war: “Almost twenty years had gone by, but he could still see the land rolling like an ocean into the blue sky. [Porter] tried not to remember other images: a barn in Alabama full of stinking, rotting, wailing men. His regiment lost 13 in battle, 161 to disease” (5). During his time in the Civil War, the tragic event of losing his men during the war caused Porter to feel horrible in connection with his loss. The rotting men symbolized how Porter’s misery through various years deteriorated him. Porter had to accomplish a successful circus by assisting it in every need possible that way he can pay tribute to his lost men and learn from his mistake. In honor of George, his men, and his sanity, Porter realized that seeing the elephant guided him to understand the essentials to achieve to rid of…show more content…
As Porter walked past George, he remembered, “In the war, he’d watched three horses crumple beneath him, one from musket fire, two from starvation and exhaustion” (17). Each horse that Porter remembered symbolized the Calvary men, Irene, and George in similar ways. The horse that died from musket fire symbolized the men he had lost in the war due to fatal weapons. The starving horse symbolized Irene in the way that the starving disease Irene carried ate her alive. Day illustrated, “… the beast fed on her and stole quickly away” (11). The disease continued to feed itself by cause of Porter starving Irene of the joy and excitement that Irene always desired. She hated her life in the city and hungered to escape it, and she thought that Porter could have given her a different life, however Irene’s past blinded Porter, longing him to maintain it the same and not be able to change her past. Lastly, the exhausted horse symbolized George in the sense that the elephant grew tired of the pain and suffering that it went through with the circus. George and the horse were tired of their own wars and did not wish to continue to be trapped in their own miseries. Porter’s life came to him by only witnessing at the pain in George’s eye and realized that he did not manage to save anyone’s lives. The horses were a symbol of the
Get Access