What is the symbolism in "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall"?

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There are several symbols in Katherine Anne Porter's "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall." 

  • Symbols of Christianity

A candle, a crucifix, and a rosary are on a table covered with linen (as is an altar) near the bed in which Granny lies. The family has these for Granny as they await the priest who will come to give Granny the last rites, the sacrament of Extreme Unction.
These items that symbolize her faith, however, do not comfort Granny as much as the contact with her loved ones does.

The rosary fell out of [Granny's] hands and Lydia put it back. Jimmy tried to help, their hands fumbled together, and Granny closed two fingers around Jimmy's thumb. Beads wouldn't do, it must be something alive.

Feeling death close at hand, Granny leans over and blows out the light of the candle.

  • The uncut wedding cake

This cake looms in Granny's memory as she cannot forget how she was jilted at the altar on her wedding day. 

  • "A whirl of dark smoke"

As Granny recalls her wedding day, she envisions dark smoke covering a "bright field." The thought of her old fiancé is this "smoky cloud from hell." 

As she remembers this tragic day, Granny imagines "a whirl of dark smoke" (her fiancé) covering a "bright field where everything was planted so carefully." (Granny's plans for her life)

  • A blue light

Cornelia's silk lampshades cast a blue light. In reality, however, the blue light that Granny perceives is the light of her life that is fading. For, near the end of the story as she begins to die, Granny imagines the darkness of death circling the blue light and swallowing it:

The blue light from Cornelia's lampshade drew into a tiny point in the center of her brain.


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