Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Member of the Wedding, by Carson McCullers. Bantam, 1946

During WW 2, 12 year old Frankie Addams lives in a small Southern town, and she is bored. Really bored. Her mother died giving birth to her, and her father is extremely distant. The other girls her age bully and ostracize her. Her only company is her six year old cousin John Henry, and the housekeeper Berenice Sadie Brown, a woman of color.  She wishes people could shift between male and female at will; Berenice wishes everyone was the same color. Over a few days in August, Frankie experiences some harsh things that could change how she lives her life.

When the family gets word that Frankie’s older brother will be coming home to be married, and will then have a short honeymoon before returning to his military unit, Frankie fixates on that event as the one thing that will save her. Both her brother and his fiancĂ© have first names that start with J, so Frankie adopts the name Jasmine. She starts packing, in the belief that after the wedding, they will take her with them on their honeymoon and they will all live together. Although she tells this to everyone, only Berenice bothers to tell her that won’t happen. Told to go buy a dress for the wedding, she chooses one that is totally inappropriate for her age. That leads to some adventures on its own. Then comes the wedding… 

Although I sympathized with Frankie’s loneliness and frustration, I couldn’t stand how she made the wedding all about herself. I also disliked how she treated Berenice. Is she a bad child? No, she’s just ignored and left to grow up basically on her own. She’s on the verge of becoming a young woman, and no one is giving her clues on how to behave. A very well done coming of age story, but kind of hard to read, watching Frankie.

1 comment:

  1. Read when it first came out. Maybe 60's? Never been a fan