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Fried Green Tomatoes
My first impression of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café was that it was a “woman’s” novel. This was because the movie, which was more popular than the book, was advertised as a “chick flick”. To say the least, I was wrong. The novel poses many issues that face the people of the 1920’s and 30’s, and makes one think about what people have struggled through. The novel addresses the issue of racism before the time of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. It tells of the struggles women must go through when they reach menopause; the big change. However, the main plot line tells the story of two women, Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison, and the trials and tribulations of their life in the 1920’s and 30’s. Idgie and Ruth are business partners, best friends, and in the eyes of many, also lesbians.
“[Fried Green Tomatoes] represents around the issue of lesbianism, depicting a strong and intense friendship between two white women (the tomboy Idgie Threadgoode and the fern Ruth Jamison), but never committing itself one way or another” (Pelligrini 7). There have not been many stories written about homosexuality in the first half of the twentieth century. That is why Fannie Flagg does not just come out and say that Idgie and Ruth are lesbians. In turn, the idea that Idgie and Ruth are lesbians is a subject that has been under heated debate. However, there are many episodes between Idgie and Ruth that are undeniable proof that they are homosexuals. The idea that Idgie and Ruth are lesbians is rampant throughout the story. It is evidenced by the way they speak to each other and act towards each other, but the idea is subverted due to the fact that everyone in the town sees Idgie as a man.
The idea that Idgie and Ruth are lesbians can be misunderstood. To say that they are a lesbian couple does mean that they are sexually involved with each other. However, whether or not Idgie and Ruth are sexually involved is a decision that is left up to the reader. Flagg does not describe in the novel any sexual experiences between Idgie and Ruth. This is because the idea of lesbianism is a touchy subject and could have changed the idea that novel was trying to get across. Instead, Flagg describes a relationship between Idgie and Ruth that is more of a homosocial one. As women like to say to men, just because you are a couple, does not mean you must have sex.
“Idgie treats Ruth to a picnic at a secret location; during this lunch Idgie retrieves a honeycomb from a beehive in what has been widely understood in queer readings as the first love scene” (Berglund 131). The first episode in the novel, which shows a lesbian relationship between Idgie and Ruth, is the “Bee Charmer” scene. The way that they speak and act towards each other throughout that scene is very characteristic of the way many lovers, both heterosexual and homosexual, speak and act towards each other. Idgie goes as far as to say that she would kill for Ruth and that she would die for Ruth, all because she loves her. “Idgie smiled back at her and looked up into the clear blue sky that reflected in her eyes, and she was happy as anybody who is in love in the summertime can be.” (FGT 87)
Another sign of Idgie and Ruth’s homosexual relationship is the episode where Idgie goes crazy when Ruth has to leave to get married after the summer they spent together.
“’Why are you gonna marry that man?’
‘I told you why.’
‘Because I want to, that’s why.’
‘You don’t love him.’
‘Yes I do.’
‘Oh no you don’t. You love me…you know you do.You know you do!’”(FGT 90)
At this point in the story, everybody thinks Idgie is just a sixteen year-old girl with a crush, but Idgie knows that Ruth is her love, and Ruth knows that Idgie is her love. “They just stood there, looking at each other, and in that moment Ruth wished more than anything in the world that she could grab her and hold her as tight as she
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Films, Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
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