Common among classic literature, the theme of mortality engages readers on a quest of coping with one of the certainties of life. Katherine Anne Porter masterfully embraces the theme of mortality both directly and indirectly in her story, “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall.” Understanding that all mankind ultimately becomes subject to death unleashes feelings of dread and anxiety in most people; however, Granny Weatherall transitions from rushing to meet her demise in her sixties to completely denying she is on her deathbed when she is eighty. Readers have seen this theme of mortality reverberated over and over in literature, but what makes this story stand the test of time is the author’s complexity. In Katherine Anne Porter’s “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall,” the important and overarching theme of mortality can be found throughout the story’s many complex characters, detailed plot, and surprising plot points.
Porter utilizes several characters to driving her theme of mortality; such as Granny Weatherall, Dr. Harry, and Cornelia. The most interesting ideas of mortality surround the main character, Granny Weatherall. Her character stops living life to the fullest at a young age when she is jilted at the altar by her lover. This tragic event kills something inside her, though she is determined to prove she is not affected by the event. A state of denial becomes her strongest characteristic as she denies her mortality throughout most of the story by talking about and planning life as if she will live forever. Even on her deathbed, she plans to see that things are clean, folded and dusted so tomorrow can “start without fuss.” (Porter). However, twenty years earlier, she was certain her death was impending and set ab...
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...becoming a leathery, harsh, and bitter old woman to symbolize mortality through an unfulfilled life. And as the timeline flips back and forth, Granny only comes to understand her mortality when her children return home, gathering for her impending death. “Mother, here we are, all of us. . . . We drove as fast as we could.” (Porter 88).
At an earlier point in her life, Granny Weatherall became emotionally dead. The combination of being an abandoned bride and the loss of loved ones has drained the life from her. However, once her physical body is finally ready to join her broken spirit, she is taken by surprise. Nonetheless, death is inevitable, and Porter uses this theme to emphasize the need for living life to the fullest; the need to enjoy the time given. Unlike Granny’s suitor, death comes like a thief in the night and never leaves his intended at the altar.
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