Study Guide

Father Connolley in The Jilting of Granny Weatherall

By Katherine Anne Porter

Father Connolley

Our initial reaction when Father Connolly shows up toward the end of the story can be best described as a simple "Uh oh." Things are usually not looking too good when you see a priest called to someone's sick bed, right?

Indeed, we watch Father Connolley carry out his priestly duties, saying a prayer in Latin and administering Last Rites to Granny by anointing her feet (although she thinks he's tickling them and trying to make a move on her—ha!). In that way, Father Connolly adds to the pretty somber atmosphere towards the story's ending and helps us prepare for Granny's death.

Luckily, Father Connolley is more than just a harbinger of doom. That would make him a pretty one-dimensional (not to mention downright depressing) character—but a priest who plays cards and gossips could hardly be described as one-dimensional. Take a look at the narrator's description of him:

It was like [Father Connolly] to drop in and inquire about her soul as if it were a teething baby, and then stay on for a cup of tea and a round of cards and gossip. (49)

Wow, Father Connolly sounds like a pretty personable, down-to-earth dude, but watch out—your secrets may not be safe with him. We're told:

He always had a funny story of some sort, usually about an Irishman who made his little mistakes and confessed them, and the point lay in some absurd thing he would blurt out in the confessional showing his struggles between native piety and original sin. (49)

Aren't confessions supposed to be, uh, private?

We might say that Father Connolly totally defies our expectations about what a priest should be like. Since the story seems to be getting at the fact that appearances can be dead wrong (think, for example, about how Granny becomes so much more than just a cantankerous old lady once we get to know her), this oddball priest actually fits in quite nicely.

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