Analysis Of The Jilting Of Granny Weatherall By Katherine Anne Porter
There are speculations in this world about whether many individuals are at peace or suffering when taking the last breath of life. Some may feel that is it finally their time to leave this earth, whereas others beg for another option to remain. The main character Granny Weatherall’s case, she is still holding onto feelings that she presumes were in the past and already dismissed out of her memory.
In the short story “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” by Katherine Anne Porter, Granny Weatherall’s sign to pass on is admitting she still loves her ex-fiancé George. These key indicators include holding onto George’s love letters, yearning for her deceased daughter Hapsy, and telling Cornelia to give him a message. In terms of expressing endearment to a significant other, many individuals opt to use the traditional pen and paper method to get the job done. The main character keeps both George’s and her deceased husband John’s letters tied together in a box in her attic, repeatedly telling herself she has to go through them tomorrow. She states that “Tomorrow was far away and there was nothing to trouble about”, knowing she would still have a chance to read them. The term ‘tomorrow’ can be interpreted as a symbol of not wanting to open up about the feelings she still has for George and wanting to store them away for a later period. Though she admits that she is happily married to her late husband, a part of her still wants to hold onto the feeling of George expressing those similar heartfelt words. She fears to have her letters being read by her children when she does pass on, revealing that “…how silly she had been once”. For many, it is not easy to display a vulnerable side to their loved ones especially if it is someone from one’s past.
The sacred life that Granny Weatherall and George have is something she feels her kids would never understand. Granny Weatherall’s love for her ex-fiancé is so strong that even though her late husband remains to be the love of her life, she still wants to keep George’s letters that were sent to her. She is not obligated to, but it is the sense of not letting go of something she truly wants. Granny Weatherall mentions to her daughter Cornelia that she wants “a lot of things”, inferring that George is something she still secretly begs for. Though it takes her until the end of the story to admit how she truly feels, the audience can conclude that the feelings have never left her. One may say that a mother and child’s bond is something that no one can take away from them.
An illusion of Hapsy overtakes her mind while her late husband’s daughter Cornelia tries to talk to her mother. She thinks to herself as if Cornelia does not exist, “When this one was born it should have been the last…It should have been born first, for it was the one she had truly wanted”. This raises assumptions in the audience about the newly introduced character in the story. It is evident that Cornelia has never been in her mother’s good graces throughout her life. Secondly, Granny Weatherall is yearning for the daughter that she wishes at her bedside, knowing that it is in fact George’s child as well. She pictures Hapsy in her arms as if she is the first born, but the image soon becomes clouded and “a gauzy shadow”. Hapsy’s shadow can be interpreted as the absence of losing George in the process, feeling as if Granny Weatherall is abandoned again. Also, she feels as if George is the reason why Hapsy did not make it. She reminds herself that she is blessed with everything that he has taken away from her when he jilted her at the altar on their wedding day. The thoughts of death on her mind make Granny Weatherall feel uneasy throughout the story. But, the moments that involve Hapsy ‘speaking’ to her is when she feels she is ready to pass on. In her illusion, Hapsy comes up to her and says “I thought you’d never come”. This could infer that she knows her mother is coming with her into the gates of heaven.
Finally, in frail moments before it is time to go, Granny Weatherall asks her daughter Cornelia for a very interesting favor. This could be interpreted in one of two ways: her final wishes or a lighthearted comment on how life will go on without her. But, neither of those possibilities are what she would like. After sixty of not seeing her ex-fiancé George, she admits that she wants to “find him”. One may conclude that she wants to say her final goodbyes to him. Also, Granny Weatherall mentions to Cornelia that she wants George to know that she has forgotten about him. It is very ironic how the main character repeatedly explains to the audience that George is in the past and she loves her life now, but still her mind wanders to him. The stumbling of her memory is evident in her monologue to George — forgetting things that she wants to tell him before it is too late.
Lastly, Granny Weatherall reveals the happiness her late husband John gives her. She mentions the wonderful house and children she raised and telling the audience it is “better than I hoped for even”. This poses another question among the audience about if she is really happy with how her life turned out without George. The main character sounds as if she doubts that her late husband is everything she ever wanted in life.
All in all, love is a very powerful thing that can either be used as a shield or a weapon. It is hard to understand why many individuals hold onto past love when they know it may never be perceived in the same way they were used too. Granny Weatherall struggles with the idea that George has always been on her mind. By expressing her untold intentions, though she is unhappy to admit them to herself, she is able to put her mind at ease in the last sentence of the short story.
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