The Member of the Wedding

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.

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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
Category: Book Reports