Critical Analysis Essay of The Jilting of Granny Weatherall
Written by Katherine Anne Porter, The Jilting of Granny Weatherall is a short story first published in 1930. It is regarded as one of the author’s best work as it is renowned for the author’s writing technique and sophisticated use of symbolism and imagery. The story follows Granny Weatherall and her thoughts as she lays on her deathbed. Within the narrative, the author employs important themes which include denial, acceptance and death – both of which were exemplified by the character of Granny Weatherall.
Denial is one of the most important themes in this story. In fact, the character of the protagonist is a portrayed as a woman who is in deep denial about her life. More particularly, she is in denial about her impending death. The story begins with her insistence that the doctor should leave and simply attend to someone who is actually sick. Alternately, she keeps on fantasizing about leaving and moving back into her own home so that nobody will bug her about her age. She similarly mentions that her father lived to over 100 years old which means she just might live just as long (Mooney 49).
Apart from her death, it is also clear that the protagonist is in denial of what she feels for George. In the story, Granny Weatherall recalls how she was jilted by a man some sixty years ago. She constantly tells herself that she was “able to pick up the pieces” despite of what she did to her. She also found a husband, had children, and created a family “like any other woman”. But although she tries to convince herself, it is clear that she is still in denial of what she really feels about her old lover. This is evident in the old love letters that she has kept all those years; and even on the hour of her death, she still wants to see George one last time.
While denial is a major theme in the story, the author also presented the concept of acceptance as embodied by the protagonist. Acceptance however, was only clear in the last part of the narrative. During the first part, it is evident that Granny was in denial of a lot of things. But by the latter part, the author made it clear that the protagonist has already accepted her fate. As the priest arrives to give a final rite, Granny felt that his presence is unnecessary primarily because she has made her peace with her creator a long time ago. In the same way, she also acknowledges that her time is running out. Hence, she asks for a sign from God:”For the second time there was no sign. Again no bridegroom and the priest in the house. She could not remember any other sorrow because this grief wiped them all away” (Porter 34). The very fact that she asked for a sign and that she felt a sense of grief is a sign of acceptance. Although her wish for a sign was not granted, she acknowledges this through a feeling of grief and sorrow (Bloom 130).
Closely connected to the themes of denial and acceptance, the author similarly explored the idea of death in this story. Death, much like the first two themes, is also presented through the character of Granny. At the beginning of the story, it already clear that death is eminent and at the final of part story, death was fulfilled as symbolized by the candle.
Based on the points provided, it can be concluded that Porter made use of three important themes in this story, namely denial, acceptance, and death. What is interesting about this is that these three themes were all presented through the character of Granny Weatherall.
Bloom, H. Death and Dying. NY: Infobase, 2009
Mooney, H. The Fiction and Criticism of Katherine Anne Porter. NY: UP Press, 1957
Porter, K. The Jilting of Granny Weatherall. NY: Infobase, 2002