The Jilting of Granny Weatherall

by

Katherine Anne Porter

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The Wedding Cake Symbol Analysis

The Wedding Cake Symbol Icon

As Granny thinks back to the day that she was jilted at the altar by her former fiancé, George, sixty years ago, one of the first images to spring into her mind is that of a “white cake,” which was “not cut, but thrown out and wasted.” “What does a woman do,” she asks, “when she has […] set out the white cake for a man and he doesn’t come?” For Granny, the wasted wedding cake embodies all of the meticulous preparations that she had made for her wedding day, only for them all to end up as a tragic waste when George didn’t turn up—“not cut, but thrown out and wasted.”

The wedding cake thus symbolizes all of the wasted hopes and ambitions that Granny had placed in marrying George. Just as she never even got to cut the cake, let alone eat it, she never managed to marry George or spend her married life with him. Instead, the promise of married life was, like the cake, “thrown out and wasted,” and never enjoyed. In fact, ever since George left her, the idea of waste is horrifying to Granny, as it reminds her too much of her wasted wedding day. In a later flashback, she takes care to tell her children to make sure that all of the fruit from their orchard is picked this year and to “see that nothing is wasted.” On a basic level, her instruction simply refers to the fruit, as just as was the case with her wedding cake, she doesn’t like to see the physical food wasted. But on a deeper level, Granny is also telling her children to make sure that they don’t waste their own lives, just as she, in a way, feels that she had wasted hers. “Don’t let good things rot for want of using,” she says. “You waste life when you waste good food. Don’t let things get lost. It’s bitter to lose things.” Here Granny explicitly connects the ideas of wasted food and wasted life, and details the pain that she felt at losing George when she says that it is “bitter to lose things.” This is why Granny also takes so much pride and pleasure in having cared for so many sick animals and children “and hardly ever losing one.” She may have lost her life, but she has saved many others.

The Wedding Cake Quotes in The Jilting of Granny Weatherall

The The Jilting of Granny Weatherall quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Wedding Cake. 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:
Order and Control Theme Icon
). 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

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:
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The Wedding Cake Symbol Timeline in The Jilting of Granny Weatherall

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Wedding Cake 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
Order and Control Theme Icon
Religion vs. Humanity Theme Icon
...do,” she asks, “when she has put on the white veil and set out the white cake for a man and he doesn’t come?” As she tries to think of her failed... (full context)