Follow TV Tropes


Literature / The Events at Poroth Farm

Go To

Though my name is Jeremy, derived from Jeremiah, I'd hate to be a prophet in the wilderness. I'd much rather be a harmless crank.
But I believe we're in for trouble.

The Events at Poroth Farm is a 1972 horror novella written by T.E.D Klein, in which Jeremy, a college lecturer, takes a summer vacation in Gilead, New Jersey, to read and prepare for a course on Gothic literature he'll be teaching in the upcoming semester. He rents an outbuilding from Mennonite couple Sarr and Deborah Poroth, and at first his holiday is happy and productive.

But then odd things begin to happen. There are noises in the woods at night. And Bwada, the Poroths' eldest cat, starts acting very strangely...

This work provides examples of:

  • Ambiguous Situation: Sarr's last line in the story, "Sometimes we forget to blink", alerts Jeremy to the fact that he is possessed. It is kept ambiguous whether the creature was just taunting Jeremy or whether Sarr managed to resist its influence long enough to warn Jeremy of the danger he's in.
  • Body Surf: The thing possessing Bwada attacks Deborah and takes her over, then when Sarr confronts her on the last day presumably does the same thing to him. Of course, that's assuming there's only one of these things...
  • Bug Buzz: Living out in the countryside means that Jeremy constantly has to put up with the sound of insects while he's trying to sleep. Which makes it very unnerving when, one night, the crickets just stop for a second, and then continue again out of rhythm for a moment - "as if a hand had jarred the record or there'd been some kind of momentary break in the natural flow..."
  • Cats Are Mean: Bwada is hostile to just about everything except Sarr; Jeremy theorizes that it's because she's been spayed. She or the thing controlling her body becomes downright demonic once things start to go wrong.
  • Daylight Horror: There are things that go bump in the night aplenty, but a lot of the really creepy stuff happens during the daytime.
  • Downer Ending: Deborah's dead; Sarr's body has yet to be found; Jeremy, under suspicion of Deborah's murder, is unable to leave the local area and thus is at the mercy of the creature, wherever - or whoever - it might be now; and a possible Eldritch Abomination has been let loose on the world.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Jeremy theorizes that the creature is this, having managed to squeeze in from another reality.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Jeremy notes at one point that the most disturbing thing about the creature is that it seems to have a sick sense of humor, as evidenced by the fact that when it calls him in his hotel room, it lets the phone ring exactly thirteen times.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Since Jeremy writes about the Poroths in the past tense during his affidavit at the start of the novella, it's pretty clear they're already dead or missing.
  • Homage: The novella takes several cues from H.P. Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror: it is set in a small, isolated town in the hinterland of New Jersey (not quite Lovecraft Country, but close enough), inhabited by people with strange customs and a severely limited gene pool, and features an Eldritch Abomination being summoned into our world and wreaking havoc on the countryside. However, there are some notable differences, such as the fact that the scary-looking, inbred hillbillies are actually perfectly nice and hospitable people once you get to know them, and while The Dunwich Horror ends with the monster being successfully repelled by academics from the city, The Events at Poroth Farm implies that Jeremy, an academic from New York, inadvertently summoned the horror in the first place, and ends with the creature still on the loose and ready to claim more victims.
  • Kind Hearted Cat Lover: The Poroths have seven cats, whom they adore. When Bwada kills two of them, they bury them as if they had been their own children.
  • Kissing Cousins: The Poroths are a married couple despite also being third cousins, and look similar enough to be mistaken for siblings. Jeremy comments that this kind of inbreeding is quite common in Gilead due to the isolated nature of the settlement.
  • Opposites Attract: As noted by Jeremy, the Poroths deeply love each other despite having completely opposite personalities — Sarr is quiet and reserved while Deborah is talkative and energetic.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: When Jeremy finds Bwada in the woods, seemingly dead, he notices a curiously shaped wound on her body that looks like something burrowed into her flesh. This implies that the creature is some kind of parasite that invades the bodies of its hosts and takes control of their brains.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Jeremy brings up this trope in his first-person narration and dismisses it as a hackneyed, unrealistic cliché.
    Among the silliest literary conventions is the "town that won't talk" — the Bavarian village where peasants turn away from tourists' queries about "the castle" and cross themselves, the New England harbor town where fishermen feign ignorance and cast "furtive glances" at the traveler. In actuality, I have found, country people love to talk to the stranger, provided he shows a sincere interest in their anecdotes. Storekeepers will interrupt their activity at the cash register to tell you their theories on a recent murder; farmers will readily spin tales of buried bones and of a haunted house. Rural townspeople are not so reticent as the writers would have us believe.

  • The Unblinking: The first thing that indicates something's wrong with Bwada is that she doesn't seem to blink anymore. However, as soon as Jeremy points this out to the Poroths, she immediately blinks in a very pronounced manner, as if she understood what he said and wanted to divert his suspicions. This serves as a set-up for the story's climax, in which Sarr reveals that he is now the creature's host by saying "Sometimes we forget to blink".
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Jeremy develops a theory that, when he climbed up a tree and made strange faces and movements with his body one night, he somehow opened a rift to let something in...
  • Wham Line: "Sometimes we forget to blink."
  • Wicked Cultured: When Jeremy returns to his room one day, he finds the reading materials for his course on Gothic literature in disarray. He suspects that Deborah read them in his absence, but it's later implied that it was actually the creature — and it apparently enjoyed the stories so much that it began to mimic the behavior of a typical Gothic villain.