Study Guide

The Jilting of Granny Weatherall Tone

By Katherine Anne Porter

Tone

Wistful; Comic (in a tragic kind of way)

You know that feeling you get around mid-October when you've got a bunch of exams to study for and you suddenly think back to July, when the only stress you had was deciding whether to hang out at the pool or the beach? Well, that's pretty similar to the way Granny feels throughout the story: Wistful, longing for the past. Of course, this longing is tinged with a touch of sadness given the impossibility of actually going back to the past (unless we're super skilled at building time machines). Since Granny's thoughts and recollections are the bread and butter of this story, her wistful sentiments pretty much set the tone for the entire tale. 

Specifically, the narrator tells us:

Granny wished the old days were back again with the children young and everything to be done over (25).

Yeah, there's no mystery here: Granny really misses those good old days. Granny's wistfulness is also just as evident in less direct statements. Consider, for instance, the passage in which Granny starts spouting advice about fruit:

I want you to pick all the fruit this year and see that nothing is wasted (28).

In the story, this passage appears with little explanation and at first it just seems like another of Granny's random string of thoughts…but it also sounds like advice she probably gave her kids when they were little, which shows that her longing for the past is so intense that (in her mind, at least) she's reliving the experience of mothering her young kids.

We'd be remiss if we didn't also point out the comic tone of this story. Now, we're not saying that this story is ROTFL funny. In fact, much of the story's humor is actually tinged with some serious sadness. Take, for example, Granny's misunderstanding that Father Connolly is coming on to her when he's actually administering her Last Rites. The narrator notes:

[. . .] Father Connolly murmured Latin in a very solemn voice and tickled her feet. My God, will you stop that nonsense? I'm a married woman (56).

Haha, that's really funny, we're thinking. . . until we remember that Granny's confusion is also evidence that her mind is totally deteriorating and her death is probably right around the corner. At least we got a dollop of comic relief.

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