Webster’s dictionary defines the word “jilt” as the act of rejecting a lover. So to be deserted by another, left at the altar, or unwanted by another, is to be jilted. In William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and in “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” by Katherine Anne Porter, Emily and Granny Weatherall throughout the course of their lives experience jilting several times. In turn, this rejection places a significant emphasis on both of their lives. After Emily’s father passes away in “A Rose for Emily,” Emily’s sweetheart rejects her. The only man that her father must have approved of ran out on her, leaving her all alone.
It must have been unbearable for Emily, to loose the two most important people in her life within such a short time of each other. Emily’s father, Mr. Grierson sent away all of the young men who had come to court her. They were not “quite good enough” for his little girl. He shut her off from society by standing in the front door “clutching a horsewhip. ” He did not allow Emily to go into town to see how people lived their life. Nor did he allow her to meet people and make friends. Instead, Emily’s father kept her in the house and isolated her from society. This isolation caused Emily to become resistant to change.
With no one to turn to in her time of need, Emily was forced into a period of isolation. Because her father had isolated her for the first thirty years of her life, being secluded from the community was all she knew. The narrator (the town) points out, “After her father’s death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all. ” By isolating herself, Emily was reacting to being jilting in the only way she knew how. Emily’s next jilting comes when she discovers her new interest, Homer Barron, who is new in town, is not a “marrying man.
The narrator (the town) claims, “Homer himself had remarkedhe liked men, and it was known that he drank with the younger men in the Elk’s Clubthat he was not a marrying man. ” The narrator could be suggesting that Homer is a homosexual or possibly a bisexual; after all he is seeing Emily. With this discovery, Emily knew she could never have him and could not bear the thought of another man that she loved leaving her. This must have been the breaking point for her. Emily was determined not to let another man leave her for the third time. Therefore she purchased the arsenic so she could be with him forever.
The last person to see Homer was a neighbor as the Negro man was admitting him in at the kitchen door at dusk one evening. Again, Emily submerged herself into the familiar calm of isolation until her death. After her funeral, the narrator (the town) paints the picture of their discovery in the room above the stairs. A room in which no one had seen in for forty years. “The man himself lay in the bed. For a long while we just stood there, looking down at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him.
What was left of him…. Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it… we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair. ” Emily must have decided she would rather have Homer Barron dead then to live through another jilting. In “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall”, George, Granny’s past lover, jilted her at the altar. As Granny is dying, she attempts to face these internal conflicts about being left at the altar. On her deathbed, after sixty years, she has changed her mind and would like to see George; “I want you to find George.
Find him and be sure to tell him I forgot him. I want him to know I had my husband… Better than I hoped for even. Tell him I was given back everything he took away and more. ” It is obvious that Granny has not forgotten George. He preoccupies her thoughts and feelings and she has never been able to forgive him for the pain and humiliation that he caused her. Ellen had told her not to let her wounded vanity get the upper hand of her and that plenty of girls get jilted, so stand up to it. Granny had buried the memory for many years, but now it overwhelms her. “But he had not come….
What does a woman do when she has put on the white veil and set out the white cake for a man and he doesn’t come? For sixty years she had prayed against remembering him and against losing her soul in the deep pit of hell, and now the two things were mingled in one and the thought of him was a smoky cloud from hell…. ” Granny had buried the pain of George’s rejection only to have it surface all over again, just as she is waiting for her time to come. Granny Weatherall was jilted again when her time had come to pass into heaven. She laid waiting, expecting a sign from God that never appeared.
Granny was looking for that sign of bright light from God to take her to heaven. Instead she was engulfed in an endless darkness that took her to hell. Because Granny was unable to let go of the past and forgive George for the pain he had caused her she did not receive the sign from God that she so hoped for. Granny was left in darkness. “For the second time there was no sign. Again no bridegroom and the priest in the house. She could not remember any other sorrow because this grief wiped them all away. Oh, no there’s nothing more cruel than thisI’ll never forgive it. She stretched herself with a deep breath and blew out the light.
This second jilting at death makes the first jilting by George more moving and intensely powerful. The light, which she blows out, represents her life and she descends into the blackness of death, jilted again. Being rejected by a lover can have a major impact on one’s life as it did for Emily, in “A Rose for Emily” and as it did for Granny, in “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall. ” One must find it in their heart to forgive and forget and move on with their life. The jilting of Emily and Granny Weatherall shows how time changes and how it must be embraced, for better or for worse, because the past is no more.