What does Ellen whisper into her grandmother's ear when she's dying in Ellen Foster?

Expert Answers
dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As Ellen's grandmother is dying, Ellen, after unsuccessfully trying to resucitate her, whispers in her ear,

"...the score is two to one now. I might have my mama's soul to worry over but you've got my daddy's and your own. The score is two to one but I win."

Ellen's grandmother, her mother's mother, is a bitter, vindictive woman. Ellen is sent to live with her by the courts, who have determined that her father is an unfit parent. Ellen's grandmother had not wanted her daughter to marry Ellen's father, and she harbors a deep hatred for Ellen, whom she believes contributed to Ellen's mother's death. Ellen's grandmother is a wealthy woman who controlled the money received by Ellen's father every month. Ellen believes that her grandmother conspired to kill off her father, sending him the money while knowing he would spend it all on alcohol. When her grandmother falls ill, Ellen cares for her, and when she dies, she whispers the words of the quote into her ear. Ellen is acknowledging a measure of responsibility for not having been able to save her mother, but she convicts her grandmother for the sin she committed against Ellen's father and for being a cruel, conniving individual herself. Ellen is essentially accusing her grandmother of having been an evil woman, who will be responsible for the souls of both Ellen's father and herself after she dies. Ellen is saying that although she knows she has been lacking, her grandmother has been worse, and will have to account for that.