Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Jilting of Granny Weatherall Essay

Essay on The Jilting of Granny Weatherall

The very well known writer, Katherine Anne Porter, show us a very peculiar character in one of her most famous short stories called: "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall". This narrative will have a profound and powerful effect on the intelligence, imagination and feelings of any student. It is a story that has richness of literal, figurative details, and illuminating visions of Reality (Altieri).

Granny Weatherall, who would obviously be the main character in this story, is going to be the one I will base my research on. This character is not like any character we see in every story.

Granny is a complex personality that is directly related to Katherine Anne Porter. Porter had her personal reasons, when she decided to write about her. This is a story mainly based on the experiences Granny had before she died. Subsequently, It will be stated a brief summary of the plot, and the different characteristics that describe the personality of Granny Weatherall.


“The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” opens with Doctor Harry visiting the eight year old Granny during her final day of life. Next, the author moves to the stream of consciousness narration which renders the thoughts and memories of Granny’s mind (Altieri.) Throughout the story, Granny reviews her life by remembering the important moments, disappointments, achievements, and feelings. Among all these events, it is relevant to mention the caring for sick children and animals, the lost of her last born, the dead of her husband, and the jilting sixty years ago, when she was abandoned by George at the altar. She was never able to forgive him because of the pain and humiliation he caused her, which will produce hallucinations of him in the course of the story.

Granny is remembering all the time about her life and then dividing the present as dark times and the past as the most brilliant and lightest times (Bloom, 1986). Thus, the author will move back and forth from the past through the present using visions and hallucinations. At the same time, Cornelia (Granny’s daughter) is always taking care of her and suffering the death of her mother. All the actions are placed in Granny’s room, where all of her family is accompanying her in her last moments. Along the family, Father Connolly and Doctor Harry are next to Granny. At the end, the room seems to be swallowed by the darkness and Granny ask for a sign of God that will never come and then the darkness consume her when she blows out the light (Allen, 1956), which will mean the death of Granny Weatherall.

This story is used by Porter partially to elaborate a fictional presentation of her actual grandmother. The story is presented by an omniscient observer who reports the consciousness movements of Granny from the present to the past, including all of her old fears and dreams.

Similar to Porter’s grandmother Rhea, Granny had been a strong-willed, active woman who had buried a young husband and brought up a family (Hendrick, 1965). Granny’s emotional and spiritual well-being is menaced bythe revival of the memory of George who jilted her. Granny gave order to her life after her jilting. Then, she feels very confident and secure. She even feels that she has death under control. However, everything seems to break apart when Hapsy’s memories come to her mind in her last moments ( Hardy, 1973). Hapsy was the last born that Granny lost. Hapsy seems to be the daughter she loved most but also the one who had caused her most pain. Later on, Granny begins to have confused visions or hallucinations of Hapsy as if Hapsy were Granny herself carrying a baby.

Then, Granny confuses Cornelia with Hapsy and makes this mistake with Lydia, too. The disorder of Granny’s past forces itself to show up over the artificial “ ordered life” cover that it had before, and Granny’s fear of the return of George to her memory comes true ( Hendrick). In these moments, she realizes that she can not control death. She was not as prepared for it as she thought. Death would not let her put her life in order at last. She tried to love God without forgiving the man who jilted her and therefore she ended as “ one of the foolish virgins without sufficient oil in her lamp to attend the bridegroom’s coming” ( Bloom). Granny did not have a complete success because she thought that being a human being means being orderly. She did not realized that the jilting was a cause of disorder as well as a cause of order to her life. The next sixty years of her life, after her jilting, would be an attempt to reorder her life through religion, marriage, and bringing up a family ( Hardy). However, none of these would help her at all in finding the happiness one day she thought she could have. Lamentably, Love disappeared for her the day in which George never showed up.

From that moment on, she would never dare to love anyone else and the wound would never healed ( Hardy.) All of these means that Granny had internal oppositions during almost all of her life. There were two feelings or sides fighting one against the other. At the end, Granny dies with a great feeling of disappointment, which would never be compensated ( Hendrick.)

After a long wait, I can say that what we see here is a woman who realizes, in great resentment, that she has never lived. A fact that happens at the end of her life. It is not by chance that Henry David Thoreau’s words come to mind at the end of “ The jilting of Granny Weatherall.” Thoreau wrote that the “ mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” ( 1535). Porter tries to show us the readers a life of quiet desperation. Granny lying on her death-bed and hoping for ex detonation machine, ends up blaming a distant god for not showing up to solve everything and make it all right (Hardy.)

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