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Katherine Anne Porter allows the reader to share a dying woman’s thoughts in “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall.” Most of the story is told using the literary device of stream of consciousness. This is a narrative device used in literature to depict the countless thoughts and feelings which pass through a character’s mind.
The setting of the story is Granny Weatherall’s bedroom. She is ill and progressively deterioriates throughout the story. A third person narrator observes the story using the point of view of Granny. Through the narration, the reader is able to enter the privacy of the main character’s mind.
As Granny lies on her deathbed, she listens to her daughter Cornelia and the doctor discuss her condition:
She still had ears. It was like Cornelia to whisper around doors. She always kept things secret in such a public way. She was always being tactful and kind. Cornelia was dutiful; that was the trouble with her. Dutiful and good. “So good and dutiful," said Granny, "that I’d like to spank her.”
From her few thoughts and one line of dialogue, it is obvious that Granny is cantankerous, quarrelsome, and impatient with Cornelia. The mother still thinks of Cornelia as a child. Oddly, she would like to spank her for being a good daughter.
This elderly lady has had a difficult life. The author uses Granny Weatherall’s name to indicate that this character has “weathered all”—which denotes that she has endured multiple hardships in her life.
Revelations for the reader
Granny does not accept the basic truths of her life. First, she refuses to accept that she is dying. The story opens with her arguing with the doctor about just how sick that she is. Granny insists that Doctor Harry is wasting sis time with her when there are others who are actually sick. She identifies herself as a strong, capable matriarch; it enrages Granny when her own children treat her like a child.
Secondly, Granny has never faced being left at the altar of her wedding by George. In her confusion, she focuses on George; then, it becomes obvious that she has never forgotten or even forgiven George completely.
The third revelation centers on Granny’s need to convince herself that life with her husband was wonderful. In her view, she and John were able to communicate about anything. When he died, she had to become both father and mother to her children. She did all of the motherly jobs; in addition, she had to pay bills, dig post holes, and weather all kinds of difficulties
Finally, she does not think her treatment of Cornelia is harsh. It seems clear that her children have suffered at her hands. Because she will not admit even to herself that she has been hard on her children, it enrages her when she thinks that her children are standing around talking about her.
As the story concludes, Granny’s hold on life ends as well. Granny finally appears to become aware of her impeding death. Through the unusual writing style of the author, the reader has been invited to look at snapshots of major moments in a dying person’s life. Granny prays at the end “God, give a sign!” …and she blows out the light.
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