Flowering Judas

by

Katherine Anne Porter

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Laura, the protagonist of the story, is a twenty-two year-old American woman of deep “political faith,” who has come to Mexico to aid the Socialist cause. She teaches largely indigenous students in nearby Xochimilco and visits political prisoners, for whom she smuggles cigarettes, letters, and narcotics. A lapsed Catholic, Laura hides her occasional visits to a crumbling Mexican church while attending regular Union meetings. “Flowering Judas” is largely the story of Laura’s disillusionment, as she nurses the feeling that “she has been betrayed irreparably by the disunion between her way of living and her feeling of what life should be.” A virgin, she wards off the affection of many would-be suitors, particularly the loutish ex-revolutionary Braggioni, to whom she is all but indentured. Braggioni pays her room and board and serenades her nightly while bragging of his power and taste. Said to be “not at home in the world,” Laura suspects herself of being too idealistic for such a corrupt world. She even suspects herself of becoming corrupt in her own way after a prisoner named Eugenio overdoses on pills that she has brought him in jail. This event prompts Laura’s dream of the Judas flower, which shows her that she has betrayed both her religious faith and her political convictions.

Laura Quotes in Flowering Judas

The Flowering Judas quotes below are all either spoken by Laura or refer to Laura. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Idealism vs. Reality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harcourt edition of Flowering Judas published in 1979.
Flowering Judas Quotes

Laura, who haunts the markets listening to the ballad singers, and stops every day to hear the blind boy playing his reed-flute in Sixteenth of September Street, listens to Braggioni with pitiless courtesy, because she dares not smile at his miserable performance. Nobody dares to smile at him. Braggioni is cruel to everyone, with a kind of specialized insolence, but he is so vain of his talents, and so sensitive to slights, it would require a cruelty and vanity greater than his own to lay a finger on the vast cureless wound of his self-esteem. It would require courage, too, for it is dangerous to offend him, and nobody has this courage. Braggioni loves himself with such tenderness and amplitude and eternal charity that his followers—for he is a leader of men, a skilled revolutionist, and his skin has been punctured in honorable warfare—warm themselves in the reflected glow, and say to each other: “He has a real nobility, a love of humanity raised above mere personal affections.”

Related Characters: Laura, Braggioni
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:

The gluttonous bulk-of Braggioni has become a symbol of her many disillusions, for a revolutionist should be lean, animated by heroic faith, a vessel of abstract virtues. This is nonsense, she knows it now and is ashamed of it. Revolution must have leaders, and leadership is a career for energetic men. She is, her comrades tell her, full of romantic error, for what she defines as cynicism in them is merely "a developed sense of reality.

Related Characters: Laura, Braggioni
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

She has encased herself in a set of principles derived from her early training, leaving no detail or gesture of personal taste untouched, and for this reason she will not wear lace made on machines. This is her private heresy, for in her special group the machine is sacred, and will be the salvation of the workers. She loves fine lace, and there is a tiny edge of fluted cobweb on this collar, which is one of twenty precisely alike, folded in blue tissue paper in the upper drawer of her clothes chest.

Related Characters: Laura
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:

“I am disappointed in everything as it comes. Everything." He shakes his head. "You, poor thing, you will be disappointed too. You are born for it. We are more alike than you realize in some things. Wait and see. Some day you will remember what I have told you, you will know that Braggioni was your friend.”

Related Characters: Braggioni (speaker), Laura
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

“Let them sweat a little. The next time they may be careful. It is very restful to have them out of the way for a while.”

Related Characters: Braggioni (speaker), Laura, The Roumanian and Polish Agitators
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

“If you will throw him one little flower, he will sing another song or two and go away.”

Related Characters: Lupe (speaker), Laura, The Minstrel
Related Symbols: The Judas Tree
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

She is not at home in the world. Every day she teaches children who remain strangers to her, though she loves their tender round hands and their charming opportunist savagery. She knocks at unfamiliar doors not knowing whether a friend or a stranger shall answer, and even if a known face emerges from the sour gloom of that unknown interior, still it is the face of a stranger. No matter what this stranger says to her, nor what her message to him, the very cells of her flesh reject knowledge and kinship in one monotonous word. No. No. No. She draws her strength from this one holy talismanic word which does not suffer her to be led into evil.

Related Characters: Laura
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

“They are stupid, they are lazy, they are treacherous, they would cut my throat for nothing.”

Related Characters: Braggioni (speaker), Laura
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:

There will be two independent processions, starting from either end of town and they will march until they meet, and the rest depends…” He asks her to oil and load his pistols. Standing up, he unbuckles his ammunition belt, and spreads it laden across her knees. Laura sits with the shells slipping through the cleaning cloth dipped in oil, and he says again he cannot understand why she works so hard for the revolutionary idea unless she loves some man who is in it.

Related Characters: Braggioni (speaker), Laura
Related Symbols: The Silver Ammunition Belt
Page Number: 99-100
Explanation and Analysis:

“Today, I found Eugenio going into a stupor. He refused to allow me to call the prison doctor. He had taken all the tablets I brought him yesterday. He said he took them because he was bored.”

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Braggioni, Eugenio
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

Murderer! said Eugenio, and Cannibal! This is my body and my blood.

Related Characters: Eugenio (speaker), Laura
Related Symbols: The Judas Tree
Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Flowering Judas LitChart as a printable PDF.
Flowering Judas PDF

Laura Character Timeline in Flowering Judas

The timeline below shows where the character Laura appears in Flowering Judas. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Flowering Judas
Misogyny and Femininity  Theme Icon
Every night, Braggioni waits for Laura in her house and sings to her “in a furry, mournful voice.” Laura tries to... (full context)
Misogyny and Femininity  Theme Icon
Tonight, Lupe, Laura’s “Indian maid,” warns her that Braggioni is waiting for her upstairs. Even though Laura is... (full context)
Idealism vs. Reality Theme Icon
Misogyny and Femininity  Theme Icon
Braggioni launches into his song, which he sings abrasively off-key, but Laura “dares not smile” or laugh; she listens with “pitiless courtesy.” In fact, no one “dares... (full context)
Misogyny and Femininity  Theme Icon
Unfortunately for Laura, Braggioni has recently set his sights on her, which puts her in a precarious position,... (full context)
Idealism vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion vs. Politics Theme Icon
Misogyny and Femininity  Theme Icon
Laura knows she must “resist tenaciously” Braggioni’s advances “without appearing to resist,” and she tries to... (full context)
Idealism vs. Reality Theme Icon
Misogyny and Femininity  Theme Icon
Although Laura is “determined not to surrender her will,” she grudgingly acknowledges Braggioni’s logic in contrast with... (full context)
Idealism vs. Reality Theme Icon
Misogyny and Femininity  Theme Icon
Instead, Laura continues to humor Braggioni with her knees clutched anxiously together. Laura wears a blue serge... (full context)
Idealism vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion vs. Politics Theme Icon
Laura was raised Roman Catholic and occasionally goes into one of the borough’s crumbing churches and... (full context)
Idealism vs. Reality Theme Icon
Misogyny and Femininity  Theme Icon
His song finished, Braggioni focuses his “yellow cat’s eyes” on Laura and boasts of his power, which he has used to feed his desire for “small... (full context)
Idealism vs. Reality Theme Icon
Misogyny and Femininity  Theme Icon
Laura feels “chill[ed]” by Braggioni’s words and a nameless fear that she will suffer “violence, mutilation,... (full context)
Idealism vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion vs. Politics Theme Icon
Laura can no longer explain her devotion or true motives. She spends her days with “Indian... (full context)
Idealism vs. Reality Theme Icon
Laura goes on smuggling letters from the Party’s headquarters to the fugitives who hide from firing... (full context)
Religion vs. Politics Theme Icon
Misogyny and Femininity  Theme Icon
The Polish and Roumanian agitators attempt to feed each other misinformation through Laura, though Braggioni is content to have both in his power and plays them off one... (full context)
Idealism vs. Reality Theme Icon
Misogyny and Femininity  Theme Icon
Among those who fall for Laura is a young captain who served in Zapata’s army. One day, the captain attempts to... (full context)
Religion vs. Politics Theme Icon
A “shock-haired” young minstrel sings outside of Laura’s house every night. Lupe tells Laura that he happens to be an organizer of the... (full context)
Religion vs. Politics Theme Icon
Misogyny and Femininity  Theme Icon
Laura “is not at home in the world” and lives in fear, not knowing what waits... (full context)
Idealism vs. Reality Theme Icon
Misogyny and Femininity  Theme Icon
...in the guise of “a good revolutionary and professional lover of humanity” and recalls for Laura’s benefit his youth, when the girls called him Delgadito and he was a “scrawny” poet... (full context)
Misogyny and Femininity  Theme Icon
Laura’s thoughts turn to Braggioni’s wife, who campaigns for the women who work in the cigarette... (full context)
Idealism vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion vs. Politics Theme Icon
Something is bothering Laura tonight, as she has just come from the prison. Braggioni tells her that there are... (full context)
Idealism vs. Reality Theme Icon
Laura tells Braggioni what’s been on her mind: the death of a prisoner named Eugenio, who... (full context)
Idealism vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion vs. Politics Theme Icon
Laura goes to sleep and dreams of a ghostly Eugenio, who calls her a murderer and... (full context)