6 December 2017
Analysis of “I Heard a Fly Buzz” and “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall,” and How the Two Relate
The poem “I Heard a Fly Buzz” by Emily Dickinson and the short story “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” by Katherine Anne Porter both compare and contrast tremendously. The two works both embody the underlying theme of death. How this theme is developed is a major point in the analysis of these two pieces of literature. Another major point of analysis of each of the works is the argument raised against conventional Christian beliefs, and how those are backed up. These two points of analysis will be discussed.
Thematically, both works are about the time of death and what one experiences during death. In “I Heard a Fly Buzz” by Emily Dickinson, the speaker is telling about what happens after death, while in “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” by Katherine Ann Porter the speaker is in the present moment, or is telling what is happening during her death. The main connection between the two works and how the theme of death develops is tied to the similar endings of the two works. Both end with the character left in utter disappointment. In “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall,” Granny Weatherall feels abandoned by God in death, just as she felt abandoned by her fiancé who jilted her at the altar. Granny waited and waited for a sign from God to tell her everything is going to be okay in the end, and it is okay to let go. She said to God, “give me a sign!” and he did not deliver (Porter 8). Granny eventually got tired of waiting for a sign and took matters into her own hands, “[blowing] out [her] light” (Porter 8). God disappointed Moreover, in “I Heard a Fly Buzz,” the narrator is left in a state of disappointment as well. In the work, Dickinson embodies a narrator who is dead and speaking about death and questions death. The question posed is: what actually happens after death? This gives rise to the question of if heaven is actually real, and if there is an afterlife. In the poem, “there interposed a fly…between the light and [the narrator]” (Dickinson lines 12 &14). A fly is typically associated with physical death. The act of the fly interposing suggests that another expectation was in mind for what happens after death. With evidence from the text, one can deduce that the expectation is that an angel will come down and take the soul of the recently deceased, or possibly that one waits for Christ when seeing “the light,” a common sign of death. The fly arriving at the time of death and buzzing between the light (Christ and eternal life) and the narrator suggests that death is possibly merely physical, and nothing further happens; thus,...