The Jilting of Granny Weatherall

by Katherine Anne Porter

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Why is stream-of-consciousness narrative technique appropriate in "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall"?

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Stream-of-consciousness is appropriate to Granny's thoughts as she lies dying because her mind moves in and out from memory to a blurred conception of the present.

Devised by the Modernists as part of their effort to capture the essence of the fragmented modern world, the technique of stream-of-consciousness exhibits a lack of external order in...

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human existence that is often splintered and disjointed. The Modernists felt that people should turn their thoughts inward. Certainly, Granny Weatherall's thoughts are introspective and they drift from one subject to another as she awaits the priest who will give her the Last Rites. Even though her thoughts wander from memory to the presence of her children, time and time again they return to her memory of the wedding day of her youth and the humiliation of being left at the altar by the bridegroom. Indeed, this memory yet rankles.

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.... Wounded vanity.

Before she dies, Granny Weatherall continues to think of George because she wishes someone could find him so that she could tell him that she "had [her] husband just the same and my children and my house like any other woman." She also longs for Hapsy, her youngest child, who does not come to her mother's deathbed. "Oh, no, there's nothing more cruel than this--I'll never forgive it," Granny thinks. "For the second time there was no sign!" Granny feels jilted again by Hapsy, and she perceives herself blowing out the candle of life.

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Granny Weatherall is dying. She is not thinking clearly so by using the stream of consciousness, the author gives a spontaneous feeling to her thoughts, and to the confusion Granny experiences. Because she is confused and also ill, her thoughts are jumbled. Yet the way they are presented makes it easy for the reader to establish what was important to her. Events occur in the story, not in chronological order, but in the order Granny remembers them. This seems like it would be confusing, but the lack of clarity gives the story an authentic feeling and we end up admiring Granny's life and the obstacles she overcame.

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