The Jilting of Granny Weatherall by Katherine Anne Porter

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Critical Overview

(Short Stories for Students)

"The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" was included in the first collection of Porter's stories, Flowering Judas, which was published in 1930. Though the first print run of the book was fairly small, critical response was overwhelmingly positive. Virtually overnight, Porter won a reputation within an influential circle of writers and critics as one of America's finest writers. Reviewers noted that her work was mature and exhibited similarities to the writing of Ernest Hemingway, a fellow American expatriate.

Critics praised Porter's technical skill and her ability to approach each story in a new way. Often noted were her rich characterizations, whose personalities seem to determine the narrative form Porter chose. Edmund Wilson, one of the United States's most influential literary critics at that time considered Porter's stories with female protagonists, like "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall," her strongest and most interesting. He suggested that the author's ability to convey the intricacies of a woman's character made her stories unique.

Robert Penn Warren and Allen Tate, both renowned poets from the South, were also important literary allies for Porter. Warren, in particular, wrote extensively on Porter and stressed, among other things, the way her stories captured the culture and ethos of the American Southwest and Mexico, areas where Porter had lived for many years. Other critics discussed her use of religious imagery to elucidate her characters' psychological states, evidence of which can be found in "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall."

More recently, focus on Porter's works has centered on her feminist perspective, the aspect of her writing so admired by Edmund Wilson. Barbara Harrell Carson, for example, has pointed to the refusal of many of Porter's female characters to accept their assigned social roles. The conflict between social roles and a woman's acceptance in society is at the heart of Granny Weatherall's deathbed reminiscence in "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall."