Denial is an aspect of not complying with or failure to satisfy a request, which is portrayed well by the characters of Everyday Use and Jilting of Granny Weatherall. The former is about heritage where a black family fails to accept their twin state as African-Americans and end up choosing either African or American heritage. Jilting of Granny Weatherall on the other hand portrays denial but in this case is of self.
The old woman fails to accept her jilting by her lover to her death even though she prides in having been married and fend for her family all alone after facing the death of her husband at a tender age.
She happens not to be afraid of anything and she is determined to take down anything that comes her way to threaten her existence. Her dressing which according to Hoel “is of West African origin” (4) and speech betrayed her American heritage hence showing her superficial nature.
For Dee quilts, which were a symbol of her family heritage, were for class and admiration. She pegged no ancestral existence to them. She denounced her American name to Wangero Leewanika Kamenjo though she still held her American consumer culture dear to her.
Walker argues that she wants to do all that the whites did with the cunning equipment of the past (175). This is to maintain that heritage as an unenthusiastic manifestation to her classiness. Dee’s boyfriend on the other hand, has a Black Muslim background by his language. Therefore, “He is not interested in farming and ranching” (Walker 411).
Dee defies both the American and African heritage. She has no clue of how far her name that was her aunt’s goes down in the family. She too fails to understand the meaning of the churns as far as history is concerned. She goes further to not interacting with her blood kid sister because she is more American in speech and depicting denial of her American heritage.
On the same note, Maggie feels neglected and she is ashamed of her nature. Her mother describes her as a maimed and useless animal perhaps a dog ran over by a car. She always lives and stays in the corners not to be seen and even her speaking is faint.
She does not feel like she can be like her sister, accept her state and move on. Later on when Mama sees the scars in the hand s of Maggie, she realizes that she should be proud of her heritage meaning she had denied the same all her years. She understands that there is no need to sacrifice either of her heritages for that was who she was together with her daughters.
The Jilting of Granny Weatherall as the name suggests contains a granny weathers all that life ever presented. Her boyfriend/husband jilted her. Granny has had pneumonia for many years and this made her have no faith in doctors. She asks Doctor Harry where he was when she pulled through milk-leg and pneumonia many years ago (WriteWork contributors), meaning that she was accustomed to life never meaning the best for her.
She actually feels neglected and seems not to agree that she was actually dying, she refuses to talk to the priest too. She seems to have bitterness with what happened during her wedding and she is careful not to go through the same again. She represses the jilting of George instead of facing life head on.
Granny too happens to be a staunch catholic who contrary to her actions, faith fails her. She felt that even God had jilted her and deceived her when she was left at the altar by her love. She literary becomes immortal in her mind after failing to pass on at her sixties and she does not accept that time was almost up for her as she repeatedly claims that she had a lot to do come the following day.
During her youthful age, she managed to sew clothes, do fences and much more and she thinks that the same would be the case at her age. At some point, she lost the most important thing in her life a child that she always wanted to have. Her obsession in her dreams signifies her failure to accept her death and move on with life. Sometimes she thought of her dead husband John too.
She wanted to see him again and tell her how she fared in some stuff. She lived in a wounded vanity. Additionally, God seems to jilt her making it worse for being in heaven was the only worthwhile thing that kept going. According to Porter, there is nothing crueler than this (588).
Denial is a role played tactfully and skillfully in the two essays. The denial in Alice Walker’s essay is about heritage where the actors have two heritages that they need to hold dear but they end up embracing one depending with their preferences.
On the other hand, Jilting of Granny Weatherall is about denial of self and life experiences as a whole portrayed by Granny. She is in denial yet she is determined by even denying the comfort from Cornelius and the doctor.
Hoel, Helga. Personal Names and Heritage: Alice Walker’s ‘Everyday Use’. Norway: Trondheim Cathedral School, 2000. Print.
Porter, Katherine. The Jilting of Granny Weatherall. Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Fort Worth: Harcourt, 2000. Print.
Walker, Alice. Everyday Use. Reading Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and the Essay. 4th ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 1998. Print.
WriteWork Contributors. “The Stages of Death: 5 stages of death”. The jilting of Granny Weatherall by Katherine Porter. 27 April, 2004. Web. 24 Apr. 2012.