One of the most crucial aspects of a story is based on the dynamic interactions of the different characters in it. Specially, it is on the main character that the storyline mainly revolves around and therefore, it has the capacity to direct readers' attentions. The main character of a tale is called protagonist and there may be more than one main character in a story. The things happen to the main character, the way these are being reacted and the results or effects they bring are essential factors for drawing readers' attentions. Katherine Anne Porter, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Zora Neale Hurston on their stories "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall, " "Young Goodman Brown" and "Sweat" have the ability to take their readers completely down to the end by wounding the protagonists' vanities through breaking what they value most: promise, trust and patience.
Porter's "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" present the main character, Ellen Weatheral, also known as Granny Weatheral, as a sick eighty-year-old woman who have been through along of life and now laying on her behalf dying bed. Upon this last day of her life, flashes of memories "[squeezes] out" from her heart-both to meet and also to frustrate her (Kennedy 82). Porter moves backwards and forwards freely from today's realities to the past memories without obvious time boundaries and confuses readers so that showing the confusions in the Granny Weather's mind. As the title itself foreshadow, Granny Weatherall had been jilted. Sixty years before, she was being left alone at the altar sweating in the "white veil" and before an untouched "white cake" (82). By then her husband to be, George, did not show up in any way. The sensation of 'being jilted' was so devastating and it's been affecting her throughout her lifetime.
However, after a while, she is in a position to go through changes that somewhat heal parts of her wounded vanity. Whether or not he's not alive today, she wishes to let George knows that she is "'given back everything he took away and more'" (83). Somehow, she is satisfied in her accomplishments in life. After he jilted her, she married another man called John and bore four children with him. Even though John died at a younger age, she was successful to raises the kids alone. She fantasizes the memories and "[wishes] the old days were again with the children young and everything to be achieved over" (81).
Some twenty years before, she was assuming of dying soon. However, death had never come across. Now, at the time she less think of it and unprepared for it, it involves her as an endless mass of darkness. Even thought she hates the surprise, she believes that she has already secured "a straight road to God" (84). Her life, as a dot of light in the bottomless of the darkness, is waiting sign from God so that to be taken to heaven. God might be late or will not come in any way. Nevertheless, Granny Weatherall, as somebody who had been jilted before, has no courage to withstand the sensation and also to wait. She once again feels 'being jilted. ' However, this time it is with what she value most and "'there's nothing more cruel than this-[she]'ll never forgive it'" (85). With this break of the promise of eternal life, her self-importance become permanently lost and she 'decide' to get rid of her life by blowing out the spot light.
On the next story, the "Young Goodman Brown, " Hawthorne presented a young man called Young Goodman Brown who's newly married with a woman, called Faith. Hawthorne used such symbolic naming so that to magnify the roles of the characters. The storyline opens with Young Goodman Brown leaving to a forest during the night with a curious "evil purpose" -a mysterious journey to see the devil (420). When he leaves home, he feels sad for abandoning Faith at night and promises for himself that will be for forever. However, what he's going to see as of this night would change him a lot more than what he imagined.
While Brown fearfully hurries in to the forest, he encounters a vintage man who seems the devil himself. Soon after, Brown feels bad and starts cursing himself for being the first to take part in such wickedness in his family line, whom he assumed them as "'a race of honest men and good Christians'" (421). The traveler argues by evidencing himself as collaborator of Brown's ancestors while they were committing crimes of persecution and genocide. Down the road, Brown noticed an old woman, who had thought him catechism as youth and who currently is his counselor, proceeding into the darkness. Despite the fact that this tempted him for some time, he realizes that woman's choice to ruin her life has nothing in connection with him and decides to avoid to go forward-hoping to return home. However, in a short time he hears horses' riders and recognize "the voices of the minister and Deacon Gookin, " discussing about the exciting meeting and the attractive young woman they will see (424). Even later, he recognized the voices of his village's peoples whom he presumes them nearly as good peoples. The whole thing shocked him to death! However, even with all these, he is still determined to resist the wicked: "'[with] heaven above and Faith below, I will yet stand firm from the devil!'" (424).
Nevertheless, after some time he hears the voice of his dear Faith and sees the pink ribbon, that was in her head when he left home, flying right down to the tree in the forest. This collapses him; he loses his rely upon humankind completely and acknowledges, "'[there] is not a good on earth'" (425). This is the turning point where he rejects the vanities of the world and his moral code becomes completely paralyzed. In resentment and grief, he rushes to the congregation. Sooner or later after he reached, when he was not able to find Faith there, he was hoping that his backsliding would heal. Yet, the "one take a look at his pale wife" makes the change irreversible (428). This fearful experience, whether it was dream or reality, make him to lead a distrustful and gloomy life afterwards.
Lastly, in her story, "Sweat, " Hurston present the main character, Delia John, as a suppressed and exploited washerwoman who is married to an oppressive husband, Skyes Johns. Even when she has been in this abusive relationship for fifteen year, they had different expectations right from the start: "[she] had brought like to the union and he previously brought a longing after the flesh" (531). Throughout their life together, he has been mistreating her both physically and mentally, wasting her money and cheating frequently on her behalf. However, still she is trying to cope with the problem by neglecting him and by "[avoiding] the villagers and meeting places in her efforts to be blind and deaf"(534) Even when she tried to bring peace back piece many times, he refused to do so as he has another intention.
Now, he wants to throw out Delia as "'sugar-cane'" and lives with another woman at Delia's house (533). While he knew that she has an extreme fear for snake, thinking it would help him to push her out, he allows a rattlesnake to remain at the home. Onetime, when she complains that she is starving, as she is unable to go to the kitchen for concern with the snake, he affirms her that he does not have any plan to remove the snake whatsoever. At that time, her want to him grow blurred-"'Ah hate you tuh de same degree dat Ah useter love yuh. Ah done took an' took till mah belly is full up tuh mah neck. '"(535) However, it appears that he's not yet trashed completely. She still hopes that he could feel regretful: "[perhaps] he was sorry" (536).
On the very next day, while she comes home with relaxed mood from church and after she started working inside the house, she realizes that the snake is inside. Frightened to death, she is manages to escape and lie on the barn of the home. While she is there, "coherent thought" comes toward her mind and she starts to make self-examinations (536). She realizes that, her life is currently endangered which is vivid that Skyes wants to kill her. She also becomes conscious that, it is futile to fight because of this unfortunate marriage and there will nothing she'll regret about: "'Well, Ah done de bes' Ah could. If things ain't right, Gawd knows tain't mah fault'" (536). After that, Skyes entered to the house and attached by the snake. As she is already utterly broken and wounded, even though she can hear his horrible screams, she doesn't have the gut to help. Even at the end, she rather wants him to understand she had been there the whole time he was being attached.
These three stories are similar in that they all have a turning point in which the main characters totally wounded their vanity. However, each was used for different purposes. Porter used that point to conclude the story as a loser, Nathaniel for brining everlasting behaviors changes and Hurston for ending suppressions and miseries.