The Jilting of Granny Weatherall

by Katherine Anne Porter

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What is ironic in that Granny says she wants to see George 60 years later to tell him that she has forgotten him for 60 years? "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" by Katernine Anne Porter

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In "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall," by Katherine Anne Porter, I think that Granny wants to see George, sixty years after their break-up, to tell him that she forgot about him; however, I think that there is an old heartache that she has tried to bury. She has his letters, and her husband John's letters locked away. She has repressed the memory of George because of the embarrassment of being left at the alter.

Granny is very clear about the fact that except for standing her up at the alter, he had never hurt her in any way. She had all the things she thought she would lose when he left: a loving husband who she loved, a house and children. She has struggled and faced difficult times, but she survived and is stronger for it. She feels right with God and doesn't seem to have regrets.

In some ways, I think she did forget George to a very real extent:

There was the day, the day, but a whirl of dark smoke rose and covered it, crept up and over into the bright field where everything was planted so carefully in orderly rows...For sixty eyars she had prayed against remembering him...

In her health, Granny has put George in his place: in her past, forgotten, filed away with other memories "in orderly rows."

However, as she approaches death, her thoughts wander and her mind won't cooperate: many images come to her from the past, and she sorts through them trying to ascertain what is real and what is imagined. The thought of being jilted by George upsets her if she allows herself to think about it. Being rejected, especially as a young woman who is in love, is not something that goes away easily. In her unguarded moments as life is slipping away, she confronts the memory of her husband, and then the unwanted memory of what she may consider failure: George's abandonment. He made the decision, but it is her pain:

Plenty of girls get jilted. You were jilted, weren't you? Then stand up to it.

This has been the way Granny Weatherall has lived whenever things were tough, and she knows her husband John, long gone, might not recognize her, but would be proud of her accomplishments with their family. All of these things she could battle—raising sick children and caring for the homestead. But regarding George's actions, she could only repress the memory. She has forgetten, until she becomes too weak at the end. The thought of him comes to her mind, but it seems simply like unfinished business as she puts her affairs, in her mind, in order.

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On the last day of her life as she lies alone on her bed, Granny takes stock of her existence, feeling a pride that she has "nothing to worry about" because

Things were finished somehow when the time came; thank God there was always a little margin over for peace: then a person could spread out the plan of life and tuck in the edges orderly.

However, when Granny feels the presence of death, there is one corner of her life that she has not "tucked in the edges" in an orderly manner.  This matter is her desire to let her truant bridegroom of sixty years ago be made aware that "I got my husband just the same and my children and my house just like any other woman."  For, having been rejected in such a callous manner has affected Granny's psyche all these years.  In reality, then, Granny wishes to avenge herself upon George before she dies, thus tucking in the largest edge of her life.  But in her desire for revenge, Granny cannot forget George:

For sixty years she had prayed against remembering him and against losing her soul in the deep pit of hell, and now the two things were mingled in one and the thought of him was a smoky cloud from hell that moved and crept in her head when she had just got rid of Doctor Harry and was trying to rest a minute. Wounded vanity, Ellen, said a sharp voice in the top of her mind. Don’t let your wounded vanity get the upper hand of you.

Indeed, the sharp hand of vanity gets a hold on Granny, so in her desire to see George again, she underscores the presence of this man's memory in her mind.  As Granny dies,

She could not remember any other sorrow because this grief wiped them all away. Oh, no, there’s nothing more cruel than this – I’ll never forgive it. She stretched herself with a deep breath and blew out the light.

The bitter irony of her life goes with Granny to the grave: in trying to even the score and forget George, she takes him memory above all others with her to eternity.

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