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Porter's "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall contains two narratives: one of a woman’s dying hour and another of the past that floods her mind. The old lady, a tough Southerner or Southwesterner with an intense love of life, has “weathered all,” even a jilting; she had expected a groom,
George, and was publicly disappointed when he failed to show up. Now, at her death, again a priest is in the house, and again she is disappointed or “jilted”: The bridegroom (Christ) fails to appear.
The first jilting could in some measure be overcome, but the second is unendurable. Porter gives us the stream of Granny’s consciousness, and if we are not always perfectly clear about details (did Hapsy die in childbirth?), we are nevertheless grateful for the revelation of an unfamiliar state of consciousness.
Exactly who is Hapsy? It is assumed that Hapsy was her last child, “the one she really wanted,” and that is why Hapsy plays such an important role in Granny’s consciousness. Presumably she had at last come to love her husband. (On this point, it is relevant to mention, too, that one of her sons is named George—presumably for the man who jilted her—
and the other son is not named John, for his father, but Jimmy.)
Also, who is the “he” who, at the first jilting, “cursed like a sailor’s parrot and said, ‘I’ll kill him for you’”? Among the possible answers: her father, a brother, the man she later married. Probably the question can’t be answered authoritatively. And who is the driver of the cart, whom she recognizes “by his hands”?
These details do not affect the overall interpretation of the story. To return to a larger matter, what interpretation of the story makes the most sense? “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” has engendered considerable comment in books on Porter, and in journals. It is probably fair to say that the story is usually interpreted as setting forth the picture of an admirable—even heroic—woman who finds, at the end of her life, that there is no God, or, more specifically, that Christ the Bridegroom does not come to her. That is, the story shows us an energetic woman who at the end of her life learns that she lives in a godless world.
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