Katherine Anne Porter’s “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” is a short story illustrating the struggle of an old woman trying to face death with personal dignity. At the story’s heart is a masterful characterization of the protagonist, Granny Weatherall. Katherine Anne Porter has developed the character of Granny Weatherall “with such clarity and force that her life story becomes a prototype for everyone’s, regardless of age or circumstance” (Blake 3465). Porter’s vivid portrayal of this magnificent old lady depends mainly on her use of three artistic tools: point of view, development of plot conflict, and symbolism. A brief examination of these three tools shows how “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” achieves its stirring effect.
A basic tool contributing to the portrayal of Granny Weatherall is the use of third-person-limited point of view that imitates Granny’s inner stream of consciousness. “Often in the same paragraph and sometimes even in the same sentence, the omniscient author devolves into Granny Weatherall” (Blake 3465). Filtering all the action through Granny’s confused yet intensely personal reactions, this mind-flow has several advantages. First, it reveals her world from the inside out, just as she perceives it. For example, in her sickness Granny only dimly perceives objects and people that float “like a balloon about her” (Porter 229), but each of them projects her into the world of her past. Second, this stream-of-consciousness technique also allows for smooth time transitions. In the space of one day, Granny embraces a lifetime of memories. Third, Granny’s self-limited point of view reveals the touching loneliness of the dying lady who finds “the long journey o...
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