The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers isthe story of an adolescent girl who triumphs over lonelinessand gains maturity through an identity that she creates forherself in her mind. It is with this guise that twelve year oldFrankie Addams begins to feel confident about herself andlife. The author seems to indicate that one can feel goodabout oneself through positive thinking regardless of reality.
The novel teaches that one’s destiny is a self-fulfilledprophesy, seeing one’s self in a certain light oftentimescreates an environment where one might become that whichone would like to be.
The world begins to look new andbeautiful to Frankie when her older brother Jarvis returnsfrom Alaska with his bride-to-be, Janice. The once clumsyFrankie, forlorn and lonely, feeling that she “was a memberof nothing in the world” now decides that she is going to be”the member of the wedding.” Frankie truly believes that sheis going to be an integral part of her brother’s new family andbecomes infatuated with the idea that she will leave Georgiaand live with Jarvis and Janice in Winter Hill.
In her schemeto be part of this new unit, she dubs herself F. Jasmine sothat she and the wedding couple will all have namesbeginning with the letters J and a. Her positive thinkinginduces a euphoria which contributes to a rejection of theold feeling that “the old Frankie had no we to claim…. Nowall this was suddenly over with and changed. There was herbrother and the bride, and it was as though when first shesaw them something she had known inside of her: They arethe we of me.” Being a member of the wedding will, shefeels, connect her irrevocably to her brother and his wife.
Typical of many teenagers, she felt that in order to besomeone she has to be a part of an intact, existing group,that is, Jarvis and Janice. The teen years are known as atime of soul-searching for a new and grown up identity. In aneffort to find this identity teens seek to join a group. Frankie,too, is deperate for Jarvis and Janice’s adult acceptance.
Frankie is forced to spend the summer with John Henry, hersix year old cousin, and Berenice Brown, her black cook. Itis through her interactions with these two characters that thereader perceives Frankie’s ascent from childhood. BeforeJarvis and Janice arrive, Frankie is content to play with JohnHenry. When she becomes F. Jasmine and an imagined “we”of the couple, she feels too mature to have John Henry sleepover, preferring, instead, to occupy her time explaining herwedding plans to strangers in bars, a behavior she would nothave considered doing before gaining this new confidence.
When F. Jasmine tells her plans to Berenice, the cookimmediately warns her that Jarvis and Janice will not wanther to live with them. F. Jasmine smugly ignores the cook’swarning that “you just laying yourself this fancy trap to catchyourself in trouble.” The adolescent feels confident andcocky, refusing to believe that her plot is preposterous. Afterthe wedding and the shattering reality that Frances (as she isnow known) faces, it is evident, from the fact that theirrefusal doesn’t crush her, that she has truly turned herselfaround, and that her maturity is an authentic and abiding one.
At the conclusion of the story, the now confident Frances isable to plan a future for herself, by herself, which includesbecoming a great writer. She, further, finds a sympatheticfriend who becomes the other half of her new “we.” CarsonMcCullers brilliantly portrays a teenage girl’s maturationthrough a fabricated feeling of belonging, which ultimatelyleads to a true belonging. The reader sees how the girlgrows from a childish “Frankie,” to a disillusioned “F.
Jasmine,” and eventually to a matured Frances. When F.
Jasmine questions Berenice as to why it is illegal to changeone’s name without consent of the court, the cook insightfullyresponds, “You have a name and one thing after anotherhappens to you, and you behave in various ways and dovarious things, so that soon the name begins to have ameaning.” No matter how we might change externals, it isonly when our innermost feelings are altered that we trulychange and grow. The Member of the Wedding Novel by:Carson McCullers Copyright date: 1946Category: Book Reports
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