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The Jilting of Granny Weatherall | Study Guide

Katherine Anne Porter

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The Jilting of Granny Weatherall | Quotes


A person could spread out the plan of life and tuck in the edges orderly.

Ellen Weatherall

Ellen Weatherall finds great comfort in external order, from organizing her glassware to following her faith. Order helps her find peace to organize things and accomplish goals. Initially she is confident in her ability to manage her own life and death with these skills, but in the end her faith fails her.


Digging post holes changed a woman.

Ellen Weatherall

As Ellen Weatherall thinks of her long-dead husband John, she doubts he would recognize her. She is now an old woman, and she has spent her life in physical labor. Hard work has inevitably changed her from the young woman he married, both physically and mentally. She has become much more independent and confident as a result.


A fog rose over the valley, she saw it marching across the creek.

Ellen Weatherall

Fog, along with smoke and shadows, symbolize confusion and fear. Ellen tries hard to think about her accomplishments and focus on her faith as she lies dying, but she can't keep doubts at bay.


Without Thee my God, I could never have done it. Hail, Mary, full of grace.

Ellen Weatherall

A dutiful Catholic, Ellen offers her gratitude to God as she reflects on her life and achievements. She reflexively begins the first words of a Hail Mary prayer, asking for intercession, before breaking off to other disconnected thoughts.


What does the woman do when she has ... put on the white veil ... and he doesn't come?

Ellen Weatherall

Left at the altar, Ellen Weatherall had no idea what to do. She had put all of her faith in her fiancé George, and when he didn't show up, she was at a loss. His betrayal marked the end of her innocence—and though Ellen does not yet know it, a greater betrayal still is to come.


For sixty years she ... prayed against remembering him and against losing her soul.


Ellen Weatherall had spent her adult life avoiding the memory of being jilted. The recollection of that traumatic event was so painful that she compares it to hell.


I thought you'd never come ... You haven't changed a bit.


Ellen Weatherall imagines she sees Hapsy in eternity, greeting her warmly. Hapsy has been waiting for her. In contrast to Ellen's fears that John wouldn't recognize her as an old woman, Hapsy knows her instantly, claiming age has had no effect on Ellen. This is one of the ways in which Katherine Porter contrasts Ellen's thoughts about Hapsy and John; clearly the woman was more beloved to her.


Tell him I was given back everything he took away ... no ... something not given back.

Ellen Weatherall

Changing her mind on her deathbed, Ellen Weatherall suddenly thinks she'd like to send a final message to George. She wants him to know that she has been happy in life, with a husband, children, and a home—everything he threatened to take away from her when he left her at the altar. Yet she reflects that there is something that was lost that day that she hasn't regained. It is her ability to trust.


It should have been born first, for it was the one she had truly wanted.

Ellen Weatherall

Ellen Weatherall's mind goes back to when she was about to give birth to her final child. She recalls that this child was the one she desired most and should have been her first. Critics speculate that this child was born out of love, which is why she wanted it. It was the product of love won late in her marriage to John, which had originally been one of duty. A child born of love is something she would have had with her first love, George.


Granny felt easy about her soul ... all surely signed and sealed.


Ellen Weatherall initially feels very confident facing death. She believes in the promises of Catholicism without question, and her belief gives her peace.


Since the day the wedding cake was not cut ... the whole bottom ... dropped out.


The trauma of being jilted was world-altering for Ellen Weatherall. Her foundations were shaken as she lost her innocence. She has become someone who cannot stand waste as a result.


I'm not going, Cornelia. I'm taken by surprise. I can't go.

Ellen Weatherall

Unexpectedly, when the moment of death arrives, Ellen Weatherall's confidence evaporates. In a panic she tries to assert the power of her will in an effort to halt her journey towards death, as if by refusing she can stop death itself.


This darkness would curl around the light and swallow it up. God, give a sign!

Ellen Weatherall

As her consciousness fades to a small point of light surrounded by shadows, Ellen Weatherall begs for a sign from God. She had expected to find Hapsy and to meet Jesus Christ. Finding neither, she desperately begs for some indication that God is there.


For a second time there was no sign. Again no bridegroom.


Ellen Weatherall is abandoned again at the moment of death. She has once again misplaced her trust. Like her long-ago fiancé George, Jesus Christ—in Christian symbolism the "bridegroom"—has failed her.


This grief wiped them all away ... she stretched ... and blew out the light.


Facing the darkness alone, her faith proven a lie, Ellen Weatherall feels a pain that makes all others in her life pale in comparison. She chooses to blow out the light, her own consciousness, and die. This final act can be interpreted either as a sign of despair or one of defiance.

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