Last Updated September 5, 2023.
He was a garrulous soul, I suspected, and would not be averse to imparting the information I wanted.
The above quote references Father Peterkin, an old man who hitches a ride with the young doctor. The latter describes Father Peterkin as a "garrulous" or talkative old man. In the story, Father Peterkin does not disappoint. Due to his "garrulous" nature, he reveals the Jordan family history to the young doctor during their ride together.
The author uses Father Peterkin to provide the backstory of "Jordan's End." From Father Peterkin, we learn why the prominent characters in the story, such as Alan and Judith Peterkin, think and act as they do. We also learn that the three old ladies at Jordan's End refrained from telling Alan about the family's inherited curse until after his son was born. Within the story, Father Peterkin's revelations also give the young doctor a deeper understanding of the family's health history.
Last, the author reveals why Father Peterkin knows so much about the Jordan family: his son is a sharecropper and works a farm on the Jordan family land. Sometimes, Father Peterkin helps with the harvest at Jordan's End. So, in some small way, he's connected to the Jordan family.
Then the front do’ opened an’ them old ladies, as black as crows, flocked out on the po’ch. Thar never was anybody as peart-lookin’ as Miss Judith was when she come here; but soon arterwards she begun to peak an’ pine, though she never lost her sperits an’ went mopin’ roun’ like all the other women folks at Jur’dn’s End.
In the above quote, Father Peterkin likens the old ladies to crows. They surround Judith not long after Alan brings her to Jordan's End. In western literature, crows are often a symbolic representation of tragedy, death, and catastrophe.
In Father Peterkin's eyes, the old ladies are like crows who crowd out all joy, hope, and light from Judith's life.
But the whole place was badly in need of repair. Looking up, as I stopped, I saw that the eaves were falling away, that crumbled shutters were sagging from loosened hinges, that odd scraps of hemp sacking or oil cloth were stuffed into windows where panes were missing. When I stepped on the floor of the porch, I felt the rotting boards give way under my feet.
In the above quote, the condition of the house at Jordan's End mirrors the condition of its inhabitants, particularly Alan. Although the structure of the house still betrays its once magnificent appearance, the entire house is in need of repair.
The image of the "rotting boards" is significant. The boards are inside the house and can only be seen when one steps into the building. Similarly, Alan's outer appearance is deceptive. He is whole, handsome, and physically robust. Despite this, his mental faculties have left him. On the inside, he is "rotting" away or declining mentally.
Just as his wife, Judith, cannot tend to the repairs needed in the house, she also cannot tend to the dysfunction in her husband's mind. The entire story is a tragedy, and we are led to sympathize with Judith in the aftermath of Alan's death.