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Literary Criticism

Abstract/Description

The short story “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” by Katherine Anne Porter is the account of a devout Catholic woman on her death bed who dwells on being jilted at the altar sixty years earlier. It is commonly accepted among scholars that the “jilting” in the title also refers to a second jilting at the end of the story. Although it could be debated that the jilting referred to in the title could only refer to Granny’s jilting at the altar, over ten peer-reviewed articles about this short story suggest or acknowledge that the jilting in the title also refers to Christ jilting Granny on her deathbed, and I agree with scholars on this account. To demonstrate this point, Elizabeth Piedmont-Marton explains that the second jilting of Granny Weatherall at the conclusion of the story refers to Christ as the bridegroom: “Just as Granny herself had thought that being left at the altar was the worst thing that could have happened to her, as readers we have believed until now that the jilting in the story refers to that horrible day sixty years ago. Several critics have pointed out however, that in this second jilting, the absent bridegroom is not the hapless George, but the Christ of Matthew 25:1–13 in the New Testament” (116–17). Even though many scholars acknowledge that the ending of this story alludes to Christ’s absence when Granny dies and how disappointing this absence is, no scholars have addressed the issue of what additional elements in the narrative contribute to the reader’s disappointment felt at the conclusion of this story. I argue that a reader’s disappointment stems from the belief that if a Christian does not receive a reward in the afterlife for following their religion, then it seems that God has let them down. As a result, when Christ does not come to visit Granny on her deathbed, readers often feel disappointed because they feel she deserved to have him be there. Though scholars acknowledge that Christ not coming to Granny as her “bridegroom” causes the reader to feel disappointment, what makes this story’s ending truly disappointing is that readers expect Christ to be at Granny’s deathbed because of Granny’s religious nature. In other words, readers are disappointed when Christ is absent at Granny’s death because she has lived a religious life that has merited Christ meeting her when death comes. Readers feel this disappointment because Porter has placed religious references in this short story to show that Granny is a religious woman, including the numerous references to saints, religious rituals, religious objects, concern for the state of the soul, and even God throughout the short story. I will examine these religious references in “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” in order to demonstrate how a reader would believe Granny to be a religious woman and then be disappointed by her non-reward at her death.

Location

4101 JFSB

Start Date

20-3-2015 10:15 AM

End Date

20-3-2015 11:45 AM

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Mar 20th, 10:15 AM Mar 20th, 11:45 AM

Readers’ Disappointed Expectations: Religious Symbols in ‘The Jilting of Granny Weatherall’

4101 JFSB

The short story “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” by Katherine Anne Porter is the account of a devout Catholic woman on her death bed who dwells on being jilted at the altar sixty years earlier. It is commonly accepted among scholars that the “jilting” in the title also refers to a second jilting at the end of the story. Although it could be debated that the jilting referred to in the title could only refer to Granny’s jilting at the altar, over ten peer-reviewed articles about this short story suggest or acknowledge that the jilting in the title also refers to Christ jilting Granny on her deathbed, and I agree with scholars on this account. To demonstrate this point, Elizabeth Piedmont-Marton explains that the second jilting of Granny Weatherall at the conclusion of the story refers to Christ as the bridegroom: “Just as Granny herself had thought that being left at the altar was the worst thing that could have happened to her, as readers we have believed until now that the jilting in the story refers to that horrible day sixty years ago. Several critics have pointed out however, that in this second jilting, the absent bridegroom is not the hapless George, but the Christ of Matthew 25:1–13 in the New Testament” (116–17). Even though many scholars acknowledge that the ending of this story alludes to Christ’s absence when Granny dies and how disappointing this absence is, no scholars have addressed the issue of what additional elements in the narrative contribute to the reader’s disappointment felt at the conclusion of this story. I argue that a reader’s disappointment stems from the belief that if a Christian does not receive a reward in the afterlife for following their religion, then it seems that God has let them down. As a result, when Christ does not come to visit Granny on her deathbed, readers often feel disappointed because they feel she deserved to have him be there. Though scholars acknowledge that Christ not coming to Granny as her “bridegroom” causes the reader to feel disappointment, what makes this story’s ending truly disappointing is that readers expect Christ to be at Granny’s deathbed because of Granny’s religious nature. In other words, readers are disappointed when Christ is absent at Granny’s death because she has lived a religious life that has merited Christ meeting her when death comes. Readers feel this disappointment because Porter has placed religious references in this short story to show that Granny is a religious woman, including the numerous references to saints, religious rituals, religious objects, concern for the state of the soul, and even God throughout the short story. I will examine these religious references in “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” in order to demonstrate how a reader would believe Granny to be a religious woman and then be disappointed by her non-reward at her death.