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Literature: Flannery OConnor

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In Katherine Ann Porter’s “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall,” there are
two prevalant themes. The first is self-pity. The second theme is the acceptance
of her immenent demise. Both deal with the way people perceive their deaths and
mortality in general. Granny Weatherall’s behavior is Porter’s tool for
making these themes visible to the reader. The theme of self-pity is obvious and
throughly explored early on. As a young lady, Granny Weatherall left at the
alter on her wedding day . As a result, the pathetic woman feels sorry for
herself for the rest of her life. She becomes a bitter old woman who is
suspicious of everyone around her. This point is shown early in the story when
the doctor is speaking to Cornelia in the hallway outside of Granny’s room.
Granny exclaims “First off, go away and don’t whisper!” (p.1487) Granny
was apparently under the impression that the two of them were speaking ill of
her behind her back. Thoughts like these resulted from the trauma she suffered
when the man she loved failed to show up on their wedding day. Granny
Weatherall’s self-pity gives the reader a negative initial impression of a
woman the author eventually expects us to miss. The ailing octogenarian is so
incredibly annoying at the beginning of the story that one almost welcomes the
idea of her passing. The second theme is the acceptance of immenint death. At
first, Granny Weatherall could not accept the fact that her days were numbered.
She shows this when the doctor is summoned and she says “I won’t see that
boy again. He just left five minutes ago.” (p.1490) Later on, she continues
her denial when Cornelia calls on a priest to offer Granny her last rights. When
the priest arrives, she would not speak to him. She said, “I went to Holy
Communion only last week. Tell him I’m not so sinful as all that.” (1491) As
Granny’s life was winding down with only minutes remaining, she finally began
to show signs that she accepted what was happening to her. She bagan remembering
those who were important to her and dividing her possesions among family
members. Porter shows a loving side to Granny Weatherall that endears her to the
audience before she is wisked away from the land of the living. It is
reminiscint of The Flannery O’Connor story “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”
The Misfit has just executed a fast-talking grandmother. One of his evil cohorts
offers that she was “a real talker.” The Misfit interjects that “She would
have been a good woman if it had been somebody to shoot her every minute of her
life.” So it is with Granny Weatherall, at her best while near the bitter end.
The Jilting of Granny Weatherall gives us a brief overview of mortality. Porter
gives us slightly deeper insight into self pity and the acceptance of death.
Granny Weatherall’s actions and thoughts give the reader an idea of how it
feels as life draws to a close. Porter suggests that by succeeding in dying
well, one can leave behind an image of themsleves that is more flattering than
the legacy of their squandered lives.
Heath Anthology of American Lit., Third Edition, Vol II , Paul Lauter Ed.,
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