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In most of her literature work, Katherine Porter not only refreshes her readers’ imagination, but she enlightens them on the reality of life as well. Perfect in her thoughts and structure of events, the author does not miss out any of the literature elements to spice up her fiction, “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall”. She uses several elements of fiction such as symbolism, plot, themes, character, tone, flashback and language among others. This paper will narrow down into a critical analysis of themes and symbolism as some of the elements that have featured well in this fiction.
The fiction “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” by Katherine Porter describes a life history of a woman in her eighties. The story is told from Granny Weatherall thoughts perspective as she dying in her bed and tries to remember all the ups and downs she has been through during her life. Even though the physical setting of the story is in Granny’s living room, most of the events are happening in her subconscious mind as she awaits her last minute. She recalls her past, from when she had been left at the altar by her husband-to-be, George, to household duties; from how she has learnt to raise her children after husband’s death and to how she has been taking care of the sick (Porter).
Some of themes underlined in this fiction include betrayal, self-indulgence and death. Betrayal is described when sixty years ago, George, Granny’s fiancé, failed to show up for the wedding (Porter 120). Granny was betrayed by the man she loves most of all. She is then forced to marry John, a man she does not love. As though this is not enough, life takes her through another “betrayal” when her husband dies at the time she needs him the most: the time when children are still young and need their father’s attention. She raises them singlehandedly, fences the farm by herself and takes care of her children and sick animals, without loosing any. For this reason, she wishes that John was here to comment her hard work and regrets why life has to take her through this course of events. Again God betrays her when she has been waiting for him in her dying bed. In her thoughts, she sees God pushing a cart and wishes that he takes her with him because she has been waiting for him, but eventually “for the second time there was no sign” (Porter 122). She once again feels rejected and betrayed by God for not showing concern even about her death.
Self-indulgence is also well represented in this fiction. To begin with, Granny’s life is all full of sorrows and depressions; thus it seems to her that she has never lived a good life. She pities herself whenever she remembers the sorrowful events that have happened to her. For instance, she regrets being jilted at the altar by George, and, in a low tone, she says “What does a woman do when she has put on the white veil and set out the white cake for a man, and he doesn’t come?” (Miller, Wood and Dwyer 349). This act has lead Granny to lamenting the whole life, and, as a results, she develops a habit of hating and being bitter to those people around her, including priests and doctors, not to mention her own children. She becomes suspicious particularly when Cornelia whispers to Doctor Harry, thinking that they are planning something fishy behind her back (Porter). Self-indulgence is also seen when Granny speaks about the death of John and how she has had to live in hardship, raising children and fencing the farm; something she knows for sure that John would help with if he were alive. Though she endures this physically, her emotions are still not convinced and that is why she pities herself. The death of Hapsy also makes her feel a misery since she counts it as a failure in her many achievements. She feels that her life is incomplete without ever again seeing Hapsy.
Another topic that has been brought to the story by the author is death. Several deaths event occurred throughout the story. John, Hapsy and Granny’s father were reported to had died as shown in Granny’s flash backs. Granny does not accept this bitter reality, thus she keeps wondering in her thoughts when she will ever see them, especially Hapsy (Porter 121). Granny also struggle in her subconscious mind when the truth and inevitability of dying have being realized. This resistance to accept the reality of death is what the writer wants to bring out; that we are all going to die and so we should be prepared at all times.
The author also emphasizes on bravery in her writing through the respective usage of a symbolic language. Several color symbols have been used including light and dark among others. The writer uses a blue color to symbolize several stages of Granny’s life. Color blue is first mentioned when Granny remembers the days she used to keep a neat house. In her flash back, Granny mentions white containers with blue markers such as coffee, sugar, tea etc. (Porter 118). Blue had thus been used to symbolize Granny’s young and energetic age when she organized the house and imposed orders, not to mention that this color also shows neatness as a result of her effort. Blue is used again when Granny recalls how she lighted lantern in the evening and children gathered around her and only leave when the glow “settles in a blue curve” (Porter 120). This symbolizes the transition from the time the children were dependant on Granny to the time when they have grown up and started taking care of themselves. Blue is also seen underneath John’s eyes on the photo. His eyes are painted black on a picture, but they were naturally blue (Porter 121). Blue here symbolizes her love for George and the black color symbolizes her marriage to a husband she had not loved. Finally, blue come in the form of light that Granny puts off. Here, it symbolizes the last stages of her life as she comes to terms with her death (Porter 122).
Other symbols that have been used are light and dark. Light shows up in the story whenever Granny remembers the past and darkness comes when reality about her present situation downs on her. Cornelia tells her that “sleeping in the light gave you nightmares” (Porter 120). This means that she should not dwell much on the past since it brings her bitter memories to the present, though these memories are used to be sweet in the past. She finally puts off the light which has been symbolizing her own life and that she has eventually gone to the darkness of death (Porter 122).