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Essay/Term paper: The member of the wedding

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Book Reports

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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  

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