The Jilting of Granny Weatherall

by

Katherine Anne Porter

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Granny / Ellen Weatherall Character Analysis

Granny Weatherall is the protagonist of the story, an eighty-year-old woman on her deathbed. While the narrative is in fact written in the third person, its stream-of-consciousness style closely follows Granny’s wandering thoughts through the present, the past, and the imaginary as she contemplates her oncoming death. At first, she is not a particularly sympathetic character, given that she is fairly rude to and dismissive of the people trying to look after her. As the story progresses and more is revealed about her life, however, her plight becomes increasingly sympathetic. Granny was “jilted” at the altar sixty years ago by a man named George, and despite trying her very best to move on with her life, she is still plagued by the painful memory. Nevertheless, she has remained remarkably strong, and her enduring spirit has carried her through life. She married a man named John, was a very attentive mother to her children, and kept an excellent home. She remains proud of her achievements, and has always tried to remain in control of things through the strength of her will. She can’t help feeling, however, that something was missing from her life, which leads her back to George. In her dying moments Granny is once again jilted, only this time by God when she asks Him for a sign and He fails to provide one. In spite of this cruelty she manages to reclaim her own agency once again, and the story ends with her seemingly dying of her own accord, blowing out the “candle” of her life.

Granny / Ellen Weatherall Quotes in The Jilting of Granny Weatherall

The The Jilting of Granny Weatherall quotes below are all either spoken by Granny / Ellen Weatherall or refer to Granny / Ellen Weatherall. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harcourt edition of The Jilting of Granny Weatherall published in 1979.
The Jilting of Granny Weatherall Quotes

Cornelia was dutiful; that was the trouble with her. Dutiful and good: “So good and dutiful,” said Granny, “that I’d like to spank her.”

Related Characters: Granny / Ellen Weatherall (speaker), Cornelia
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

Things were finished somehow when the time came; thank God there was always a little margin over for peace: then a person could spread out the plan of life and tuck in the edges orderly. It was good to have everything clean and folded away, with the hair bushes and tonic bottles sitting straight on the white embroidered linen.

Related Characters: Granny / Ellen Weatherall
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

While she was rummaging around she found death in her mind and it felt clammy and unfamiliar. She had spent so much time preparing for death there was no need for bringing it up again. Let it take care of itself now. When she was sixty she had felt very old, finished […] she made her will and came down with a long fever. That was all just a notion like a lot of other things, but it was lucky too, for she had once for all got over the idea of dying for a long time.

Related Characters: Granny / Ellen Weatherall
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:

Little things, little things! They had been so sweet when they were little. Granny wished the old days were back again with the children young.

Related Characters: Granny / Ellen Weatherall
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:

Why, he couldn’t possibly recognize her. She had fenced in a hundred acres once, digging the post holes herself and clamping the wires with just a negro boy to help. That changed a woman. John would be looking for a young woman with the peaked Spanish comb in her hair and the painted fan. Digging post holes changed a woman.

Related Characters: Granny / Ellen Weatherall, John
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:

I want you to pick all the fruit this year and see that nothing is wasted. There’s always someone who can use it. Don’t let good things rot for want of using. You waste life when you waste good food. Don’t let things get lost. It’s bitter to lose things.

Related Characters: Granny / Ellen Weatherall, George
Related Symbols: The Wedding Cake
Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:

There was the day, the day, but a whirl of dark smoke rose and covered it, crept up and over into the bright field where everything was planted so carefully in orderly rows. That was hell, she knew hell when she saw it.

Related Characters: Granny / Ellen Weatherall (speaker), George
Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:

I want you to find George. Find him and be sure to tell him I forgot him. I want him to know I had my husband just the same and my children and my house like any other woman. A good house too and a good husband that I loved and fine children out of him. Better than I hoped for even. […] no, there was something else besides the house and the man and the children. Oh, surely they were not all? What was it? Something not given back.

Related Characters: Granny / Ellen Weatherall (speaker), George
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

Yes, John, get the Doctor now, no more talk, my time has come.

Related Characters: Granny / Ellen Weatherall (speaker), John
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

The rosary fell out of her hands and Lydia put it back. Jimmy tried to help, their hands fumbled together, and Granny closed two fingers around Jimmy’s thumb. Beads wouldn’t do, it must be something alive.

Related Characters: Granny / Ellen Weatherall, Jimmy , Lydia
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:

She stretched herself with a deep breath and blew out the light.

Related Characters: Granny / Ellen Weatherall
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:
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Granny / Ellen Weatherall Character Timeline in The Jilting of Granny Weatherall

The timeline below shows where the character Granny / Ellen Weatherall appears in The Jilting of Granny Weatherall. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Jilting of Granny Weatherall
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Death and Old Age vs. Life and Youth Theme Icon
Granny Weatherall tells Doctor Harry, who is inspecting her, to leave her be. She claims that... (full context)
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Granny feels that her bones are “loose” and “floated around in her skin,” and that Doctor... (full context)
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Granny hears Cornelia and Doctor Harry whispering outside in the hallway. They claim that she was... (full context)
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As she starts to drift back off to sleep, Granny thinks about all of the things that need to be done tomorrow, as there is... (full context)
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Granny thinks suddenly of death, and the thought of it feels “clammy and unfamiliar.” She decides... (full context)
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Again Granny hears Cornelia talking about her behind her back, saying she is “childish,” and Granny becomes... (full context)
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As Granny thinks back to the past, she specifically thinks of her children as they were when... (full context)
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Granny thinks back again to what she must do tomorrow, but suddenly finds that she cannot... (full context)
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Granny then thinks about another memory of the orchard, when she told her children to “pick... (full context)
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Granny then drifts into a memory of her jilting at the altar sixty years ago. “What... (full context)
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Granny is brought back into consciousness by Cornelia wiping her face with a cold cloth. She... (full context)
Cornelia seems to be speaking to Granny, but Granny can’t understand what she’s saying. Cornelia explains that Doctor Harry has returned to... (full context)
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Once the doctor has administered the hypodermic, Granny has a hallucination in which she goes through various rooms to find her daughter, Hapsy.... (full context)
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Granny slips back into reality as Cornelia asks her if there is anything Granny wants. Granny... (full context)
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Father Connolly, the priest, arrives. He was also the priest who was supposed to marry Granny and her former fiancé George. Granny remembers Father Connolly as a man fond of gossip... (full context)
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As she comes close to death, Granny gets confused and has flashbacks to the time that she gave birth to Hapsy. She... (full context)
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Granny becomes very aware of the room around her. She thinks it looks like a picture.... (full context)
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Granny drifts in and out of reality but manages to pull a rosary out of her... (full context)
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Granny comes closer to death and quickly tries to instruct her children as to what to... (full context)
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Granny feels as if she has become a small blue light. As she dies, the light... (full context)
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God fails to give Granny a “sign,” and instead abandons her in her time of need, just as George did... (full context)