The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers

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.
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