The Member ofthe WeddingThe Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullersis the story of an adolescent girl who triumphs over loneliness and gainsmaturity through an identity that she creates for herself in her mind. It is with this guise that twelve year old Frankie Addams begins to feelconfident about herself and life. The author seems to indicate that onecan feel good about oneself through positive thinking regardless of reality.
The novel teaches that one’s destiny is a self-fulfilled prophesy, seeingone’s self in a certain light oftentimes creates an environment where onemight become that which one would like to be. The world begins to look new and beautifulto 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 “wasa member of nothing in the world” now decides that she is going to be “themember of the wedding. ” Frankie truly believes that she is going to bean integral part of her brother’s new family and becomes infatuated withthe idea that she will leave Georgia and live with Jarvis and Janice inWinter Hill.
In her scheme to be part of this new unit, she dubs herselfF. Jasmine so that she and the wedding couple will all have names beginningwith the letters J and a. Her positive thinking induces a euphoria whichcontributes to a rejection of the old feeling that “the old Frankie hadno we to claim. . .
. Now all this was suddenly over with and changed. Therewas her brother and the bride, and it was as though when first she sawthem something she had known inside of her: They are the we of me. ” Beinga member of the wedding will, she feels, connect her irrevocably to herbrother and his wife. Typical of many teenagers, she felt that in orderto 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-searchingfor a new and grown up identity. In an effort to find this identity teensseek to join a group. Frankie, too, is deperate for Jarvis and Janice’sadult acceptance. Frankie is forced to spend the summer withJohn Henry, her six year old cousin, and Berenice Brown, her black cook. It is through her interactions with these two characters that the readerperceives Frankie’s ascent from childhood.
Before Jarvis and Janice arrive,Frankie is content to play with John Henry. When she becomes F. Jasmineand an imagined “we” of the couple, she feels too mature to have John Henrysleep over, preferring, instead, to occupy her time explaining her weddingplans to strangers in bars, a behavior she would not have considered doingbefore gaining this new confidence. When F. Jasmine tells her plans to Berenice,the cook immediately warns her that Jarvis and Janice will not want herto live with them.
F. Jasmine smugly ignores the cook’s warning that “youjust laying yourself this fancy trap to catch yourself in trouble. ” Theadolescent feels confident and cocky, refusing to believe that her plotis preposterous. After the wedding and the shattering reality that Frances(as she is now known) faces, it is evident, from the fact that their refusaldoesn’t crush her, that she has truly turned herself around, and that hermaturity 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 sympatheticfriend who becomes the other half of her new “we. “Carson McCullers brilliantly portrays ateenage girl’s maturation through a fabricated feeling of belonging, whichultimately leads to a true belonging. The reader sees how the girl growsfrom a childish “Frankie,” to a disillusioned “F. Jasmine,” and eventuallyto a matured Frances. When F. Jasmine questions Berenice as to why it isillegal to change one’s name without consent of the court, the cook insightfullyresponds, “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 thename begins to have a meaning.
” No matter how we might change externals,it is only when our innermost feelings are altered that we truly changeand grow.