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The member of the wedding by carson mccullers


The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers is the story of

an adolescent girl who triumphs over loneliness and gains maturity

through an identity that she creates for herself in her mind. It

is with this guise that twelve year old Frankie Addams begins to

feel confident about herself and life. The author seems to

indicate that one can feel good about oneself through positive

thinking regardless of reality. The novel teaches that one's

destiny is a self-fulfilled prophesy, seeing one's self in a

certain light oftentimes creates an environment where one might

become that which one would like to be.

The world begins to look new and beautiful to Frankie when her

older brother Jarvis returns from Alaska with his bride-to-be,

Janice. The once clumsy Frankie, forlorn and lonely, feeling that

she "was a member of nothing in the world" now decides that she is

going to be "the member of the wedding." Frankie truly believes

that she is going to be an integral part of her brother's new

family and becomes infatuated with the idea that she will leave

Georgia and live with Jarvis and Janice in Winter Hill. In her

scheme to be part of this new unit, she dubs herself F. Jasmine so

that she and the wedding couple will all have names beginning with

the letters J and a. Her positive thinking induces a euphoria

which contributes to a rejection of the old feeling that "the old

Frankie had no we to claim.... Now all this was suddenly over with

and changed. There was her brother and the bride, and it was as

though when first she saw them something she had known inside of

her: They are the we of me." Being a member of the wedding will,

she feels, connect her irrevocably to her brother and his wife.

Typical of many teenagers, she felt that in order to be someone she

has to be a part of an intact, existing group, that is, Jarvis and

Janice. The teen years are known as a time of soul-searching for a

new and grown up identity. In an effort 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, her six

year old cousin, and Berenice Brown, her black cook. It is through

her interactions with these two characters that the reader

perceives Frankie's ascent from childhood. Before Jarvis and

Janice arrive, Frankie is content to play with John Henry. When

she becomes F. Jasmine and an imagined "we" of the couple, she

feels too mature to have John Henry sleep over, preferring,

instead, to occupy her time explaining her wedding plans to

strangers in bars, a behavior she would not have considered doing

before gaining this new confidence.

When F. Jasmine tells her plans to Berenice, the cook

immediately warns her that Jarvis and Janice will not want her to

live with them. F. Jasmine smugly ignores the cook's warning that

"you just laying yourself this fancy trap to catch yourself in

trouble." The adolescent feels confident and cocky, refusing to

believe that her plot is preposterous. After the wedding and the

shattering reality that Frances (as she is now known) faces, it is

evident, from the fact that their refusal doesn't crush her, that

she has truly turned herself around, and that her maturity is an

authentic and abiding one. At the conclusion of the story, the now

confident Frances is able to plan a future for herself, by herself,

which includes becoming a great writer. She, further, finds a

sympathetic friend who becomes the other half of her new "we."

Carson McCullers brilliantly portrays a teenage girl's

maturation through a fabricated feeling of belonging, which

ultimately leads to a true belonging. The reader sees how the girl

grows 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 change one's name without

consent of the court, the cook insightfully responds, "You have a

name and one thing after another happens to you, and you behave in

various ways and do various things, so that soon the name begins to

have a meaning." No matter how we might change externals, it is

only when our innermost feelings are altered that we truly change

and grow.

The Member of the Wedding

Novel by: Carson McCullers

Copyright date: 1946

Source: Essay UK -

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