Fried Green Tomatoes
A Book Analysis of: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe By Fannie Flagg Sarah Bean SOCI 2013 – Online My book that I am reading is called Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe - Fried Green Tomatoes introduction. My book is about two women in the 1980’s. One is an old woman named Mrs. Threadgood, and the other is Evelyn Couch. Mrs. Threadgoode tells a story of two daredevils, Idgie and Ruth. As the story is told, Evelyn’s life turns in a different direction, and will never be the same again.
I will be taking on gender and racism in the book, and how these two are represented. This book covers from a sociology view is gender and racism which are two very different, but very important topics. Gender is the concept that we have of ourselves as being male or female. (Hughes and Kroehler: 246) Racism is the belief that some racial groups are naturally superior and others are inferior. (Hughes and Kroehler: 212) These two are strongly represented in the book. Gender is shown as women dressed and acting as men.
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The women for example Idgie cause all sorts of folkways and do whatever they please. You were going to be judged in the town by what you do and who you are. Racism is shown in the book as, if you are African American, you are to eat with others your color, procreate with your color, and not intermingle with the Whites. You are basically supposed to work, and not mess with whites, or there will be harsh punishments. Blacks were looked down upon as laborers and nothing more. The story begins with Evelyn Couch and Mrs. Threadgoode “Ninny.
” Evelyn’s mother-in-law lives in a nursing home, Evelyn and her husband Ed go to visit her frequently. (Flagg: 33-34) One day, Evelyn is sitting in the waiting room at the nursing home when she meets Mrs. Threadgoode. They greet, start talking, and that is when Mrs. Threadgoode begins her story. She starts off with the death of her Buddy. (Flagg: 36-37) She describes her relationship with him, and how she married his older brother. (Flagg: 12) One day, he and the love of his life were strolling down the railroad tracks. Her hat fell off and Buddy went to retrieve it.
While doing that, his foot got stuck into the railing and was not able to pull his foot out in time. A train hit him and took his life. She explained that Buddy was a loved soul she said “But I know she never got over Buddy… None of us did. ” (Flagg: 37) In between telling the stories, the book talks about Evelyn’s life, and how she struggles every day in her marriage, weight, and how she starts to come out of her shell and becomes Towanda! “She became known the world over as Towanda the Magnanimous, Righter of Wrongs, and the Queen without Compare.
”(Flagg: 238)The stories are set in a small town of Whistle Stop, Alabama. We see this community back and forth in time and through repeated tragedy, with a strong mix of humor in their daily lives. It is people dealing with tough issues such as prejudice and discrimination, abuse of women, maiming and murder with wisdom and pragmatic justice. (Flagg: 338-344) The picture involves slowly through the eyes of Evelyn Couch, a middle aged wife and mother, who has always done what was expected of her and lost herself in the process.
Depressed and overweight, Evelyn encounters Ninny Threadgoode while visiting her mother – in – law at an old folk’s home in the 1980’s. (Flagg: 5-8, 11-14, 24-28)At first, she listens politely, but soon looks forward to regular accounts of life and times at the Whistle Stop Cafe. These reminiscences are interspersed with third person accounts of the same events and with delightful tidbits from the Whistle Stop weekly bulletin that make the characters feel like neighbors. Evelyn is changed and empowered by Ninny’s stories of Idgies exploits.
At first, while fighting the hormonal surges of menopause, she develops a fantasy life as Towanda the Avenger (some of whose idea have definite appeal), (Flagg: 236-240) but Evelyn eventually achieves a balance and a strong gratitude towards Ninny, who treats her as a daughter. Gender is presented in this book many of times. Gender is the concept that we have of ourselves as being male or female. (Hughes and Kroehler: 246) Gender to them had roles behind it which are called Gender roles. (Hughes and Kroehler: 247) Gender roles are sets of cultural expectations that define ways in which the members of each sex should behave.
For example Idgie, she is portrayed as a woman, but acts and does things that men do. She sees herself as a woman, but she likes to wear boy clothes, has boy short hair, gambles, smokes, and hangs out with her boys. My favorite quote from Idgie is when she is talking to Ruth, “I don’t know what is worse, church or jail. ” (Flagg: 166) Gender roles in the town played a big part as well. Women in the town had the role of being the caregiver. Women had to stay home, clean house, cook, and take care of children. Men were the bread winners. It was their job was to work and put food on the table.
This is where Idgie and Ruth stood out. The two were the bread winners. They made money by opening up The Whistle Stop Cafe, took care of children, and took care of the household. The two had a Matriarchy household. (Hughes and Kroehler: 247) In other words, it was a Patriarchy town. Patriarchy is a system of social organization in which men have a disproportionate share of power. (Hughes and Kroehler: 248)Racism is one of the issues that are brought up several times in the book. Racism is the belief that some racial groups are naturally superior and others are inferior.
(Hughes and Kroehler: 212) Racism has been around for many years, and is sadly still around today. This book describes racism as Caucasian hating African Americans. In the book, they would not let colored people eat inside the cafe. The colored had to eat in separate places. The Klu Klux Klan (KKK) sometimes had come to beat up the innocent colored people. Also, they had to sleep in separate houses, for example: The slaves who worked for the whites had their own little run down shack to sleep, cook, and bathe in. Idgie treated all people the same, no matter what color they are.
She is always out to help the ones that need it, even if they are black. She serves black people food from the cafe through the kitchen door, despite the fact that she knows she could get into trouble with the KKK. A quote from the book that said, “She had never used the word Nigger. ” (Flagg: 307) In the book the term Nigger, was used as a reference for black people. “That nigger boy’s got ya’ll jumping every which way, don’t he? ” (Flagg: 326) She also does everything in her power to get Artis out of jail, because she does not think of Sipsey, Big George, and Onzell as servant, but as friends.
In the trial for the murder of Frank Bennett, Idgie testifies in favor of her and Big George. Even though she could have been able to get out of the charge if she had blamed Big George because he was a black man, she firmly stood by his side, even though she knew her life was at stake, and when she is asked is Big George had something to do with the killing, she answers, “No sir. ”(Flagg: 340) At the end of the book it is also revealed that she was the mysterious Railroad Bill, who helped many of the poor black homeless people, something that if discovered, would have gotten her killed.
After reading this book, I have come to the conclusion that this book is by far one of the best books I have ever read. The details of the book were excellent. It had an open range of details of what happened between Evelyn’s life and the stories that were being told. The two women come to have a strong bond, over the period of time from when they met to when they ended the story. Friendships and relationships are two of the main themes in the book. Finding out who your true friends are is one of the most important things you will do in life.
It has been said that you will only find a handful of true friends in your lifetime. In my opinion, I think that what the author is trying to get across to the reader what is truly great about society, while still facing the worst in it head on. It may not again be found in the community, but it certainly can be found within us, if we choose it. In small ways, glimpses will be found in our circle and possibly beyond. It tells us that the equality of race, sex, and age is a disposition that comes from deep within, but also a decision and a lifestyle.
Remember, we are merely what we appear to be. Everyone has a story, so do not miss them if you can. The book really covers all aspects of life as it was, reminding us what is most important. Life is worth living, memories are worth clinging to, family and friends are worth cherishing, joy is worth finding, and love is worth everything. References: Flagg, Fannie. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. New York, NY: Random House, 1987. 403. Hughes, Michael, and Carolyn J. Kroehler. Sociology: The Core. 9th. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1986. 545.