The Jilting of Granny Weatherall

by Katherine Anne Porter

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What painful memory is "squeezed out" of Granny's heart in "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall"?

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In life and in her dying, Granny is haunted by the memory of her "jilting."

As Granny recalls all her accomplishments in life, she feels a sense of pride that she has been productive. "You waste life when you waste good food," she has told her children. "Don't let things get lost. It's bitter to lose things." This last aphorism of Granny's triggers a memory of what was her greatest loss, and although she tries to prevent it from entering her mind, it is "squeezed out of her heart":

What does a woman do when she has put on the white veil and set out the white cake for a man and he doesn't come?

Granny reasons, "He has never harmed me but in that"; however, this loss is one from which Granny cannot recover because her wounded vanity will not permit her to do so. She still wonders how such an abandonment of her could have happened. In fact, this jilting dominates Granny's thoughts even as she approaches death as her sorrow has not been resolved. Granny thinks,

Oh, no, there's nothing more cruel than this—I'll never forgive it.

Before she dies, Granny desires eternal justice in the next life: "God, give me a sign!" With the priest present again as he was when she was rejected at the altar, Granny hopes for retribution as she dies. She wants George to know that she has lived an honorable life and met death with honor as well, but no justice occurs. Her mind repeats "...there's nothing more cruel than this—I'll never forgive it," as the dark clouds of doubt and pain overcome her, and she dies without the "sign" she has requested.

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It is her memory of being jilted by the boy named George that is "squeezed out" of Granny's heart.  As she drifts in and out of consciousness, Granny is remembering her children, and the life she shared with John, the man she finally married.  She tries to stop herself from thinking about this other, bitter thing, but the memory rises up and "would smother her if she tried to hold it".  Granny tries to look at the positives in her life, noting that even George "never harmed me but in that...but he had not come, just the same".  Despite the fact that she was able to go on afterwards, and admittedly enjoyed a happy life with many blessings, the hurt and humiliation of being left at the altar still rankles.

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