How would you characterize Granny Weatherall in "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall"?
Of course, the stream of consciousness narrative adopted by the author gives us a real insight into Granny Weatherall's character. Clearly, if you read this story, hopefully you cannot fail to identify the humour in this story - from its very start, the character of Granny Weatherall dominates the pages and is funny and sad in turn. Even the start of the story presents us with a funny moment as Granny Weatherall shows her defiant spirit by her comment about the doctor:
She flicked her wrist neatly out of Doctor Harry's pudgy careful fingers and pulled the sheet up to her chin. The brat ought to be in knee breeches. Doctoring around the country with spectacles on his nose! "Get along now, take your schoolbooks and go. There's nothing wrong with me!"
Of course, what is funny about this is that we think of doctors as being respectful figures in society - certainly figures we do not address and think of like this. The juxtaposition with the term of contempt "brat" and doctor shocks us and makes us laugh by revealing the kind of character that Granny Weatherall is. This continues throughout the story as we see the irreverent attitude revealed towards other characters such as Father Connolly.
You might like to think of how conflict reveals the character of Granny Weatherall. It is clear that the external conflict that Granny Weatherall is facing is her stubbornness and determination against the mollycoddling (as she sees it) that she is receiving from her daughter Cornelia, and others, such as Doctor Harry and Father Connolly:
Well, she could just hear Cornelia telling her husband that Mother was getting a little childish and they'd have to humour her. The thing that most annoyed her was that Cornelia thought she was deaf, dumb and blind. Little hasty glances and tiny gestures tossed around her and over her head saying, "Don't cross her, let her have her way, she's eighty years old," and she sitting there as if she lived in a thin glass cage.
Granny Weatherall is still a determined and proud woman, who is not giving in easily to death and the care that others try to foist on her.
The internal conflict is of course revealed in Granny Weatherall's memory of her jilting that still hurts her even though it was so long ago. As she struggles to come to terms with it she shows how she still remembers and is pained by the memory:
Wounded vanity, Ellen, said a sharp voice in the top of her mind. Don't let your wounded vanity get the upper hand of you. Plenty of girls get jilted. You were jilted, weren't you? Then stand up to it. Here eyelids wavered and let in streamers of blue-gray light like tissue paper over her eyes.
Here we see Granny Weatherall trying to convince herself that she wasn't hurt and trying to pull herself together, but the final description reveals that the memory of her jilting still hurts enough to bring tears to her eyes. Of course, the story ends with a second "jilting" as Granny Weatherall resolves the internal conflict and accepts the fact that we are all "jilted" in death - that we die alone and that this solitude is greater than any loss we know in life. Yet the end of the story shows Granny Weatherall's strength and determination in the face of this ultimate jilting.
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