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Analysis of The Jilting of Granny Weatherall Short Story

February 15, 2012

The Jilting of Granny Weatherall is a short story by American author Katherine Anne Porter and published in 1930. It tells the story of an eighty-year-old woman named Granny Weatherall last day in life together with her memories of being abandoned by her would-be husband on their wedding day, and her fears that God will jilt her in a similar manner. The story is narrated in third-person point of view. The narrator frequently reveals to the reader Granny Weatherall’s thoughts in a language that is as if Granny herself was speaking. These thoughts alternate between present perceptions at one moment and old memories on the other moment as granny is disoriented, with her recollections favoring the positive view of herself. In addition, part the story is told in a narrative technique called stream of consciousness. Using the technique, the author portrays Granny’s continuous stream of thoughts as they occur, irrespective of whether they make sense, or if one thought is related to the previous thought in the sequence. While the story is essential without a plot, the author uses the third person to entertain the reader while also giving an idea of what Granny is going through. By setting the story entirely in bed but using a structure that explains the twists and turns of the main character’s thoughts, the author stretches the limits of the story’s setting. Despite the events of the story being confined to within granny’s bed, her mind wanders everywhere, taking herself and the reader to her life’s most dramatic events. On her death, she feels her body “a deeper mass of shadow in an endless darkness and this darkness would curl around the light and swallow it up” (Porter 13). Through the point of view, readers come to understand Granny’s rich but complicated life, which was full of difficulties with both successes and frustrations.

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The point of view also assists in portraying the disintegration of a dying woman’s mind. At the start of the story, the characters have logical conversations and the narration unfolds smoothly. When a doctor tries to take her pulse, she resists saying, “Get along now. Take your schoolbooks and go. There’s nothing wrong with me” (Porter 12). When she finds herself alone after the doctor leaves, she contemplates “…a person could spread out the plan of life and tuck the edges in orderly” (Porter 12). However, as she begins to deteriorate, the story also deteriorates and the narrator’s remarks no longer match with what the characters are saying. Despite the fact that her jilting hurt her, Granny claims she has no worries since saints have set up her way to heaven, saying, “What if he did run away and leave me… I found another a whole world better. I wouldn’t have exchanged my husband for anybody except St. Michael himself. . . .” (Porter 15).

In the story, author Porter presents her own point of view. She says that Granny Weatherall’s character is typical of her own grandmother’s and that the story, including other later stories, derives its inspiration from her Texas roots. In addition, her often poor health may have contributed to the story as she nearly died of influenza in 1918. About the experience, she says, “I had what the Christians call the ‘beatific vision,’ and the Greeks called the ‘happy day,’ the happy vision just before death” (Porter 17).

The author of the short story The Jilting of Granny Weatherall narrates it third person point of view. The advantage of writing a story from this view is that the author is not restricted to only one character. Using different characters enables the reader to view the story from very different perspectives. It also allows the author to be able to describe characters in a manner he or she dims fit (descriptive story telling). The major disadvantage of this point of view is that the inclusion of many characters may make the reader switch off.

In conclusion, we see that author Porter has perfected the stream of consciousness technique in the story, using it to describe the last day of an old woman’s life. She gradually reveals the details of Granny Weatherall’s life and jilting, together with her impending death, through Granny’s fragmented memories. The author’s ability to set the story in Granny’s death bed but with all her thoughts outside that bed, wondering what would happen to her, reflecting on the better past and directly exposing her fear of the unknown future clearly makes the reader feel too much sorrow for Granny. It is from this that one can conclude that the author has employed a great technique to enable the ready to feel sorry for the dying woman.