How does this short story remain true to Katherine Anne Porter's themes of uncertainty and disjointedness?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The story remains true to the themes of uncertainty and disjointedness in both form and content.  In terms of format, the narrative of "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" follows the stream of consciousness style, which keeps the point of view focused entirely on the character that experiences a series of disjointed thoughts and memories. As such, there is no linear narration, no cause and effect, and no conventional beginning or end.  The action appears to the reader in the same manner in which the character experiences it. Therefore, there are neither expectations nor chances for foreshadowing; in fact, all the action in the story is, in different ways, unexpected and uncertain. 

Stream of consciousness is the most fitting narrative style for this story, because its content comprises Granny Weatherall’s sad and traumatizing remembrance of the day when she was jilted at the altar. Every thought, memory, emotion, and opinion about that day comes to Granny as she lies in her dying bed. The chaotic combination of the dying brain struggling with memories makes the situational irony of the story all the more tragic. 

Moreover, the story is anchored in three themes that epitomize uncertainty: love, death, and fate. None of these factors are predictable, expected, nor can they be taken for granted; they are ephemeral. This is another way to remain true to the themes of disjointedness and uncertainty. 

In the end, it will all eventually lead to yet another jilting which slowly emerges as the story progresses. As Granny feels death nearer, she wonders whether God can send her a sign that “something” is out there.

 Granny laid curled down within herself, amazed and watchful, staring at the point of light that was herself; her body was now only a deeper mass of shadow in an endless darkness and this darkness would curl around the light and swallow it up. God, give a sign!

Granny is slowly transitioning into the “great unknown” , and part of the stream of consciousness in her mind questions what is taking place, where she will go, and what is waiting. Sadly, Granny cannot discern any particular sign from God.  Hence, she feels jilted twice.

   For a second time there was no sign. Again no bridegroom and the priest in the house. She could not remember any other sorrow because this grief wiped them all away. Oh, no, there’s nothing more cruel than this – I’ll never forgive it. She stretched herself with a deep breath and blew out the light.

A story with so much insight into the character's cognitive and meta-cognitive world is bound to present the character's situation in a way that denotes its uniqueness. 

Read the study guide:
The Jilting of Granny Weatherall

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