Presentation on theme: "Katherine Anne Porter Stream of Consciousness Hao Guilian, Ph,D. Yunnan Normal University October, 2009."— Presentation transcript:
Katherine Anne Porter Stream of Consciousness Hao Guilian, Ph,D. Yunnan Normal University October, 2009
Katherine Anne Porter (1890 – 1980) American novelist and short-story writer, a master stylist whose long short stories have a richness of texture and complexity of character delineation usually achieved only in the novel.
"I shall try to tell the truth, but the result will be fiction." Known as a writer of great clarity, Porter achieved a style of objectivity without sacrificing sensitivity. Her stories are self- motivated, without the author's omnipresence. She has been called "a maker of darkish parables" for her treatment of individuals who are impoverished by the modern environment and also for her use of the themes of guilt, isolation, and spiritual denial. Many of her stories use the geographic locales of the South, the Southwest, and Mexico.
Born in Indian Creek, Texas and educated at home, in private schools, and in an Ursualine convent. Her first book of stories, Flowering Judas ( 《开花的紫荆 树》 ) was published in 1930.
Porter was raised by her father and paternal grandmother, Catharine Ann Skaggs Porter, a stern disciplinarian, whose reminiscences of the Civil War and tales of her family's past were Porter's first introduction to the art of storytelling. She died when Porter was eleven, but her strong character provided a model for grandmothers in her stories.
She worked as a newspaperwoman in Chicago and in Denver, Colorado, before leaving in 1920 for Mexico, the scene of several of her stories. Her novel Ship of Fools ( 《愚人船》 )was published in 1962. The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter appeared in 1965, winning the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.
Porter ’ s quote: “ For this vocation [writing] I was and am willing to live and die, and I consider very few other things of the slightest importance. ” “ My whole attempt has been to discover and understand human motives, human feeling, to make a distillation of what human relations and experiences my mind has been able to absorb. I have never known an uninteresting human being, and I have never known two alike; there are broad classifications and deep similarities, but I am interested in the thumbprint. ”
Stream of consciousness The literary term refers to events chronicled not in a chronologicsl or linear manner, but the way the character perceives things through their inner thoughts. This is often applied to works where characters are either dying, mentally ill, or under great sense where their "thoughts jump from one idea to the next without pattern or motive" (classic definition).
The ability to represent the flux of a character ’ s thoughts, impressions, emotions, or reminiscences, often without logical sequence or syntax, marked a revolution in the form of novel. The related phrase “ interior monologue ” is also used to describe the inner movement of consciousness of character ’ s mind.
" The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" Told as a stream-of-consciousness monologue, "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" is the story of the last day in the eighty-year-old woman's life. In her final hours with her surviving children around her bed, Granny Weatherall reconsiders her life and ponders her impending death. Almost against her will, her thoughts return to an incident that occurred more than sixty years earlier: She was left standing alone at the altar when her fiance George jilted her. Porter gradually reveals the details of the jilting through Granny Weatherall's fragmented recollections. In Granny Weatherall's semi-conscious state, the past mingles with the present and people and objects take on new forms and identities.
How is "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" a stream of consciousness story? Ellen Weatherall is fiery, used to having her way, and unwilling to be treated like the sick old woman she is, for a grandmother who has "weathered it all." With its frequent excursions into the rambling consciousness of its dying protagonist, the events of the story are reported in the third person by a narrator who can see into Granny Weatherall ’ s mind. When Granny's lucid, the story proceeds in chronological order. In the story ’ s most interesting passages — especially in paragraphs 17 – 18 and 24 – 31 — Porter uses stream of consciousness with great skill to present the randomly mingled thoughts and impressions that move through Granny ’ s dying mind. By fragmenting Granny ’ s thoughts, by having her shuttle back and forth between reality and fantasy, by distorting her sense of the passage of time, the author manages to persuade us that the way Granny experiences dying must be nearly universal.
Theme A portrait of an eighty-year-old woman on her deathbed,' this short story is an exploration of the human mind as it struggles to come to terms with loss and mortality. Porter offers no clear resolution to these fundamental issues, but instead interweaves themes of betrayal, religion, death, and memory in a moving and poetic character study. Granny Weatherall has been in some way deceived or disappointed in every love relationship of her life. Her past lover George, husband John, daughter Cornelia, and God all did an injustice by what Porter refers to as “ jilting. ” This unending cycle of wrongdoing caused Granny to be a mixture of strength, bitterness, and ultimate fear as she faces her last moments in life.
Conflicts Person vs. self Granny tries to forget George Person vs. person The jilting by George Granny against Cornelia and Doctor Harry Person vs. God The second jilting at death Person vs. environment The fence posts Granny against life
Movement of Plot The plot does not move sequentially because of the stream of consciousness style. The events of her life, when sorted out, happen in this order: Granny ’ s first jilting at age 20 Birth of Hapsy, milk-leg, and double pneumonia at age 40 Farewells and fever at age 60 Real death at age 80 Granny ’ s Death She fails to see “ a sign ” Feels she has been jilted a 2nd time Loses faith in her religion Dies without God
Setting Natural and man-made Granny ’ s own house and yard are the setting in her flashbacks. Heaven and Hell were there for her. Cornelia ’ s house She dies here, but she keeps confusing it with her own house.
Characterization Granny Weatherall “ On [her] feet … morally speaking ” (p.260) Strong willed Hard-working Raised large family alone Cared for livestock Cared for sick Worked for church Kept letters to and from George Has suffered —“ Something not given back ” (p. 265)
Other Characters The children — Like calves in the lamplight Dutiful and good(Cornelia) Doctor Harry young Stock character The Priest present at both jiltings Hapsy Last born child Favorite Not living Died in childbirth?
Title and point of view Title Provides clues to the theme Focus is on Granny Her name is a play on words Pt. of View is a combination of limited omniscient ( 有限全知 )and interior monologue （内心独白） Look for evidence of each type Stream-of-consciousness The confusion in the plot reflects her mental state
Symbols Name symbolism “ weathered all ” Images of light, fog, and darkness The children in the lamplight The ending pinpoint of light Others? Religious symbols Rosary Crucifix Hapsy with child = Madonna and child Other symbols?
Questions to ponder What are the qualities the Granny possesses which help her live successfully? Does Granny have any weaknesses? If so, what are they? What are the major causes of Granny ’ s acute pain in her heart?