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The Member of the Wedding by Carson…

The Member of the Wedding (edition 2004)

by Carson McCullers

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1,824303,831 (3.87)138
Title:The Member of the Wedding
Authors:Carson McCullers
Info:Mariner Books (2004), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 176 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:20th century, american literature, coming of age, southern literature

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The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers



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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
I think McCullers is an acquired taste, like olives and mushrooms. Fortunately for me, I've acquired a taste for all three.

Our heroine, Frankie, is 12, bored, out-of-sorts, and hot in her small Southern town. All she has to look forward to during this draggingly long summer is her brother's wedding. And look forward to it she does!

As Frankie is a complete innocent, she believes that she not only will be a part of the wedding, but will blithely accompany her brother and his new bride on their honeymoon (and presumably for the rest of their lives).

Okay, that seems an absurd premise and that Frankie is simply a figure of fun. Not so. McCullers shows Frankie's slow awakening to things only dimly understood as she wanders around town, completely without escort or guidance. The book is divided in two parts; the second part turns quite a bit darker as this girl ventures into places where she doesn't belong, makes mistakes, and shows a fairly alarming streak of anger in her character.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but it's not for everyone. It's weird and McCullers' view of life is distinctly off-kilter. Still, recommended for those who enjoy Southern Gothic or the off-beat. ( )
  bohemima | Jan 29, 2015 |
One August, during the dog days of summer, 12-year-old Frankie's soldier brother Jarvis comes home from military service in Alaska to marry his fiancee, Janice. Frankie, now calling herself F. Jasmine, becomes obsessed with her brother's wedding, and she is determined to go away with her brother and his new wife after the wedding. F. Jasmine will tell this to anyone who will listen to her, which really boils down to her African American housekeeper Berenice and her 6-year-old cousin John Henry. It's obvious from the beginning that this will not end well.


Frankie/F. Jasmine/Frances is at an awkward period in her development. She no longer considers herself a child, but adults still treat her as a child. It's normal to feel lonely and left out at that age. It is not normal act out on those feelings with kitchen knives or loaded pistols. I didn't identify with Frankie; I was scared of her. I felt the absence of parental authority and guidance. Frankie's father is barely present in the novel. I'm not sure what responsibility Berenice has for Frankie. She makes suggestions about what Frankie should do, but she doesn't seem to have the authority to make Frankie do anything or to restrict her movements. Frankie is uncomfortable with her sexuality, and this is projected onto her cat, Charles/Charlina, and onto John Henry, who plays dress-up in women's clothes and plays with Frankie's doll. Frances latches onto her new friend, Mary Littlejohn, with the same fervency she exhibited for the wedding. I'm left with a feeling of dread about how this relationship will end. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Jan 25, 2015 |
This is a Southern coming-of-age story told through the eyes of a twelve-year-old who is to be in her brother's wedding and wishes to "stow away" on his honeymoon. Important characters were developed as they should have been and one gets a sense of how each relates to the main character of F. Jasmine. While I recognize the literary merit of the book, I felt a little dissatisfaction in the end with the overall story. ( )
  thornton37814 | Jan 13, 2015 |
This southern fiction classic is a dreamy, hazy meandering walk through an unnamed southern town in an unnamed southern state (although I suspect it to be the author's home state of Georgia) through the eyes of an imaginative 12-year old during World War II. The characters were developed superbly and the use of language was creative and unexpected. With all the focus on The Help these days, it is hard not to pay attention to the characterization of Berenice, the family's black maid, and her relationship to Frankie and John Henry. These relationships were central to the story. McCullers presents Berenice with a genuineness and honesty that would have been difficult to achieve in a contemporary work of southern fiction. McCullers was writing about her times at the time and this results in less cliche and, instead, feels very real. ( )
  kellifrobinson | Nov 25, 2014 |

Coming-of-age tales remain among my favorite types of literature. In the past, I devoured them with insatiable hunger. But never in all my reading have I seen the loss of childhood described with such painstaking devastation as in The Member of the Wedding. McCullers lays out F. Jasmine's agonies before the reader in exquisite detail, many of them poured forth in molasses-stretched moments as F. Jasmine huddles around the kitchen table in the fading twilight with her cohorts Berenice and John Henry, both of whom she loves and loathes, in that special moody way of early adolescence.

Reading The Member of the Wedding made me physically ill at some points. It was as if I were reliving the shattering of my own youthful innocence under the merciless hammers we never see coming when we are young. The excruciation burned particularly hard while watching in my mind as F. Jasmine walked through the Blue Moon upstairs to that room. With my faith in humanity as it is, always resting on a twitchy teeter-totter, wavering between none and some, this scene slammed down hard on the none side, sending the hard wooden plank rushing up to collide with my chin. As I rubbed my throbbing jaw, I thought about how hard it is to grow up in this world, to remain unmarred by some flawed adult's selfish motives.

Though McCullers drags F. Jasmine through tragic circles, she leaves her in a tentative upswing at the end. This surprised me a little, and yet when I think about the last passages, I see more heartbreak and frustration ahead for her. For though she weathered a few brutal storms, she still lives very much in her own head. And I know what trouble that can bring, far into the years to come. ( )
1 vote S.D. | Apr 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Frankie is the pawky, gawky heroine of Carson McCullers' slim (195-page) new novel—she calls it a novella. Unlike Novelist McCullers' earlier books (The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Reflections in a Golden Eye), which were well filled with the complex, morbid relationships of adults, The Member of the Wedding is a serious attempt to recapture that elusive moment when childhood melts into adolescence. The result is often touching, always strictly limited by the small scope of its small characters. Like childhood, it is full of incident but devoid of a clear plot; always working its way ahead, but always doubling back on itself; two-faced, two-minded. The soiled elbows of Frankie, the brat, keep showing below the sleeves of the orange satin bridal dress which F. Jasmine Addams, Esq. wears to her older brother's wedding.
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For Elizabeth Ames
First words
It happened that green and crazy summer when Frankie was twelve years old.
“The world is certainly a small place,” she said.
“What makes you say that?”
“I mean sudden,” said Frankie. “The world is certainly a sudden place.”
“Well, I don’t know,” said Berenice. “Sometimes sudden and sometimes slow.”
Frankie’s eyes were half closed, and to her own ears her voice sounded ragged, far away:
“To me it is sudden.”
That is the way it is when you are in love. Invariably. A thing known and not spoken.
Berenice began with the old same story that they had heard many times before. The story of her and Ludie Freeman. A long time ago.
“Now I am here to tell you I was happy. There was no human woman in all the world more happy than I was in them days,” she said. “And that includes everybody. You listening to me, John Henry? It includes all queens and millionaires and first ladies of the land. And I mean it includes people of all color. You hear me, Frankie? No human woman in all the world was happier than Berenice Sadie Brown.”
She had started with the old story of Ludie. And it began an afternoon in late Octorber almost twenty years ago. The story started at the place where first they met each other, in front of Camp Campbell’s Filling Station outside fo the city limits of the town. It was the time of the year when the leaves were turning and the countryside was smoky and autmn gray and gold. And the story went on from that first meeting to the wedding at the Welcome Ascension Church in Sugarville. And then on through the years with the two of them together. The house with brick front steps and the glass window son the corner of Barrow Street. The Christmas of the fox fur, and the June of the fish fry thrown for twenty-eight invited relatives and guests. The years with Berenice cooking dinner and dewing Ludie’s suits and shirts on the machine and the two of them always having a good time. And the nine months they lived up North, in the city of Cincinnati, where there was snow. Then Sugarville again, and days margining one into another, and the weeks, the months, the years together. And the pair of them always had a good time, yet it was not so much the happenings she mentioned as the way she told about these happenings that made F. Jasmine understand.
Berenice spoke in an unwinding kind of voice, and she had said that she was happier than a queen. As she told the story, it seemed to F. Jasmine that Berenice resembled a strange queen, if a queen can be colored and sitting at a kitchen table. She unwound the story of her and Ludie like a colored queen unwinding a bolt of cloth of gold—and at the end, when the story was over, her expression was always the same: the dark eye starting straight ahead, her flat nose widened and trembling, her mouth finished and sad and quiet.
I wish I was somebody else except me.
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Please do not combine Carson McCuller's original novel with either her stage play adaptation, the related Bloom's Guide , or other treatments of the story. Thank you.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0618492399, Paperback)

Twelve-year-old Frankie Adams, longing at once for escape and belonging, takes her role as "member of the wedding" to mean that when her older brother marries she will join the happy couple in their new life together. But Frankie is unlucky in love; her mother is dead, and Frankie narrowly escapes being raped by a drunken soldier during a farewell tour of the town. Worst of all, "member of the wedding" doesn't mean what she thinks. A gorgeous, brief coming-of-age novel.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:31 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Frankie Addams, a motherless twelve-year-old raised by her father and the family's African-American cook, struggles with conflicting feelings about her brother's upcoming wedding.

(summary from another edition)

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