Granny Weatherall does not want to die. She tells her doctor to leave her alone and go tend to the sick people. Her life is slipping away as she drifts in and out of consciousness.
Granny’s story is told through a technique labeled stream of consciousness. The reader is given access to the thoughts and memories of Ellen “Granny” Weatherall, an eighty year old lady, and the protagonist for “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall by Katherine Ann Porter.
In the beginning of the story, Granny is still semi-lucid and can understand some of what is being said around her. Frustrated because she can hear her daughter Cornelia speaking, Granny enjoys “plaguing her a little.”
Unfortunately, most of her directions and comments remain unstated and just in her mind. As the story continues, she slips farther back in her memories. In her mind, she prepares her house for after she is gone. She wants to get rid of the letters that she received and wrote to George and John.
The jilting by George
The day progresses and Granny goes deeper into her subconscious finally bringing up a memory that has haunted her for sixty years. She was jilted at the altar by George. It is unlikely if Granny ever forgot George. If she had forgotten him, she would not be so anxious to see him now. In fact, George’s jilting of Granny is a shaping moment in her life. Her life and character were forever changed.
In her mind, she decides that she would like to see George again. She tells whoever is listening to go and find George for her. Telling George about her happy family would give her pleasure.
More likely, Granny wants to see George so that he will be aware of what he missed out on. She wants George to see how she has survived and prospered, and realize that the loss was really his. It is a form of revenge.
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…Don’t let your wounded vanity get the upper hand of you. Plenty of girls get jilted. You were jilted, weren’t you? Then stand up to it…
Granny remains bitter about her jilting. Although she had a good marriage with John and she grew to love him, she felt as if something were missing from her relationship, something George took from her. She is unable to identify what she lost, but perhaps it is passion or the ability to trust another man so deeply as to form an intense bond with him.
It is as if the jilting, the rejection of her so completely by George sixty years before, was so damaging to her self-esteem that she had to keep everything in her life carefully controlled from that day on.
Suddenly she feels a pain, and Granny remembers the pains of childbirth. Near the surface of her consciousness, her daughter tells her that the priest is there. Moving toward death, there is undercurrent of mental images that represent her death or the jilting by George.
We would expect Granny, at such an advanced age, to have overcome the need to 'show' anyone anything, but surely the author wishes us to believe that Granny is proud of what she's made of her life and wants to show George that she did not need him to survive. At the same time, her wish proves that she never really got over him completely. Therefore, ironic because she seems to have lived a rich and satisfying life, but she is still thinking of the one that got away.