Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” was published soon after British novelist Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse (1927) and American novelist William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury (1929). Following these innovators in the stream-of-consciousness technique, Porter employs multiple points of view, combining stream of consciousness and ironic detachment. Often in the same paragraph and sometimes even in the same sentence, the omniscient author devolves into Granny Weatherall. The effect of this innovative technique is often ironic and always realistic. By tightly controlling point of view, Porter enriches Granny’s persona, making it easy for the reader to empathize with her. Empathy is further enhanced by the use of dialogue, which places the reader directly at the scene. The experience of reading this story is to enter Granny Weatherall’s mind, to share in her memories, and to experience the pain of her rejection.

Porter’s clear and simple diction and syntax contrast with the complex point of view. Simile and metaphor are the predominant rhetorical devices. They serve largely to render Granny’s death experience in recognizable terms. Dr. Harry’s hand is “a warm paw like a cushion on her forehead” and he “floated like a balloon around the foot of the bed.” Granny “floated around in her skin,” and when her eyes closed involuntarily, “it was like a dark curtain drawn around the bed.” “Her eyelids wavered and let in streamers of blue-gray light like tissue paper over her eyes.” Her hallucinatory vision of Hapsy with the baby “melted from within and turned flimsy as gray gauze and the baby was a gauzy shadow.” As death approaches “she saw Dr. Harry with a rosy nimbus about him,” and Cornelia’s voice “staggered and bumped like a cart in a bad road.” It “made short turns and tilted over and crashed.” The earlier floating images are replaced by images of falling. “Her heart sank down and down, there was no bottom to death, she couldn’t come to the end of it.” As Granny “lay curled down within herself” she grew one with the surrounding darkness that “would curl around the light and swallow it up.” The light from the bedside lamp “flickered and winked like an eye.” The final sentence describes her death: “She stretched herself with a deep breath and blew out the light.”

Historical Context

(Short Stories for Students)

Porter once wrote that her stories grew primarily out of her passion for the feelings and motivations of individual people, claiming "I have...

(The entire section is 713 words.)

Literary Style

(Short Stories for Students)

Early in her career, Porter came to be admired as an innovative and masterful stylist. In "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall," she uses...

(The entire section is 644 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Short Stories for Students)

1929: Most people died at home, surrounded by family members.

Today: Most deaths occur in a hospital setting, and...

(The entire section is 98 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

If the story were told in third-person through the eyes of a narrator who was not Granny Weatherall, how would it be different? Do you think...

(The entire section is 108 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Short Stories for Students)

Collected Stories: K. A. Porter is available on audiocassette, published by Audio Partners, read by Siobhan McKenna, 170 minutes....

(The entire section is 59 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Short Stories for Students)

"Flowering Judas'' (1930) a short story by Porter in which an idealistic young woman is betrayed by the group of Mexican revolutionaries when...

(The entire section is 110 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Short Stories for Students)

Carson, Barbara Harrell. Essay in The Authority of Experience: Essays in Feminist Criticism, edited by Arlyn...

(The entire section is 196 words.)


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Austenfeld, Thomas Carl. American Women Writers and the Nazis: Ethics and Politics in Boyle, Porter, Stafford, and Hellman. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2001.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Katherine Anne Porter: Modern Critical Views. New York: Chelsea House, 1986.

Brinkmeyer, Robert H. Katherine Anne Porter’s Artistic Development: Primitivism, Traditionalism, and Totalitarianism. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993.

Busby, Mark, and Dick Heaberlin, eds. From Texas to the World and Back: Essays on the Journeys of Katherine Anne Porter. Fort Worth: TCU Press, 2001.

Fornataro-Neil, M. K. “Constructed Narratives and Writing Identity in the Fiction of Katherine Anne Porter.” Twentieth Century Literature 44 (Fall, 1998): 349-361.

Givner, Joan. Katherine Anne Porter: A Life. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982.

Hartley, Lodwick, and George Core, eds. Katherine Anne Porter: A Critical Symposium. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1969.

Spencer, Virginia, ed.“Flowering Judas”: Katherine Anne Porter. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1993.

Stout, Janis. Katherine Anne Porter: A Sense of the Times. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995.

Walsh, Thomas F. Katherine Anne Porter and Mexico. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992.