The Jilting Of Granny Weatherall: Single Mother In The Patriarchal Society Of Nineteenth Century

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Until today’s society, women are still struggling to survive as single mothers, trace back to the nineteenth century, when the society was male-dominated, single mothers were much more suffering. In the fiction “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” by Katherine Anne Porter, author used the third person narration that an omniscient or limited exist tells the story.

In this story, the omniscient exist who knows everything, include the events, dialogues or inner monologue of different characters, depicts an elderly confused woman, who born and grew up in the nineteenth century and died in 1930s, evoked and being disoriented in her memories and reality during momentary recovery of consciousness just before death. With the use of third person narration, “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” highlights that the patriarchal society reinforces the favorable characterization of single mothers in the nineteenth century: maternal love, independence and confidence.

Through the description of the imagination and the thought in the short story, it emphasizes the maternal love of a single mother. For instance, “John, I [Granny Weatherall] hardly ever lost one of them!” (Porter 3). This line depicts Granny Weatherall was confused with her imagination and reality, because Hapsy, her daughter, died long time ago, what the fact can be known from the third person’s view; also, Granny Weatherall tried to explain to John and get his recognition that she worked hard to raise, to care and love their children, therefore, no child was lost. It creates a contradiction between reality and her personal imagination that emphasize her love to her children, especially, to dead Hapsy.

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Thus, Granny Weatherall “sees” Hapsy in many moribund moment: “Haspy came up close and said, ‘I thought you’d never come……They [Granny Weatherall and Hapsy] leaned forward to kiss” (Porter 5), and Granny Weatherall asked the existence of Hapsy in her last moment when the rest of her children went around her (Porter 7). In these dying moments, she imagined Hapsy was with her that she can kiss Hapsy. Furthermore, she showed her inner self regret to Hapsy because she was not a good mother to keep Hapsy away from death. To summarize, use third person narration, readers can see Granny Weatherall had deepest love to her children, and tried to express it to John.

In addition, independence is another important quality that single mothers should have. In the nineteenth century, males and females had different jobs. Mostly, females were responsible for the household, while the heavy work should be done by males. However, single mothers are required to finish all jobs in their life. To illustrate, she gave suggestions to her children to deal with their problems, cooked, cut and sewed clothes, did gardening (Porter 3), and “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” (Porter 3).

It underlines the hardworking of Granny Weatherall from the third person point of view, which is better than the protagonist states how difficult to overcome her troubles using first person narration. Since John jilted Granny Weatherall, she was not defeated, and it highly promote her changes to readers’ view. She depended on herself to do household duties, even fencing or digging, which heavy jobs should be done by men. In short, she supported the family successfully and independently without men.

Apart from maternal love and independence, confidence is portrayed under the life of singles mothers. In the short story, Granny Weatherall had a painful life to raise children and support the family, she described it was “a hard pull” (Porter 3), however, she thought the past difficult time was “not too much for her” (Porter 3). Therefore, she wanted to tell John “Well, I didn’t do so badly, did I?” (Porter 3). In fact, these inner monologues represent her strength and confidence about her hardworking and fostering children toward John. In addition, she felt confident towards the god. To explain, she had a well-prepared life on herself and her children, even in the confusing dying moment.

For example, “a person could spread out the plan of life and tuck in the edges orderly” (Porter 2), she prepared to leave amethyst set to Cornelia, leave the Forty Acres to Lydia because of her worthless husband, and send wine to the sister (Porter 7). As a result, she proudly said “I’m not so sinful” (Porter 6), and she believed she would have “a straight road to God” (Porter 6). In a word, confident Granny Weatherall tried her best to gain recognition from John and the god because males have power over her.

In conclusion, single mother should be maternal loved, independent and confident in the patriarchal society of the nineteenth century. Thanks to those single mothers work hard and gain attention from society, single mothers in current society have greater help from outside environment that can reduce their stress from difficult life, also, they can do their own, rather than gaining recognition from males.

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