Melody's Reviews > The Member of the Wedding

The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
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Jan 12, 10

bookshelves: southern-lit, ww-ii, bookgroup
Read in December, 2007

Carson McCullers was an author who used her writing to search for God and to explore her own questions about sexual identity. In The Member of the Wedding her main character, who is called Frankie, turns 12 and begins to try to figure out how she is going to navigate her way around this big old lonely world. Will she do it with a “crew-cut”, wearing a Mexican hat and with “rusty elbows”, or will she seek adventure in exotic places with “Esquimaux” by train in silver slippers with her hair in curls going by the name of F. Jasmine on the arm of a soldier? Frankie does not belong to any “we”. The neighborhood girls won’t let her join their club and the only people she ever talks with are her housekeeper Bernice and her distant cousin, John Henry; John Henry who follows F. Jasmine around the town wearing her jonquil dress, one of the “costumes” that Frankie has given to him.

McCullers’ Southern Gothic novel is a coming of age story – but this is the coming of age story of a misfit who throws knifes at her housekeeper, steals knives from the local Sears and Roebuck Store and also steals her father’s pistol and shoots up all the cartridges in a vacant lot. She is growing up in the time of WWII, never knowing her mother who died the day Frankie was born. She is being raised by her tired, widowed father and Bernice, their black housekeeper who dreams of a world where there is “no separate colored people in the world, but all human beings (are) light brown color with blue eyes and black hair. There would be no colored people and no white people to make the colored people feel cheap and sorry all through their lives. No colored people, but all human men and ladies and children as one loving family on the earth.” Bernice also dreams of finding a new man who makes her "shiver."

Frankie is on the brink of sexual and emotional discovery – and the rest of the world is also struggling with racial conflict and the horrors and disruption of war.
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message 4: by Jessica (new)

Jessica I JUST realized, thanks to your review, that all this time I have somehow been mixing up Carson McCullers and Cormac McCarthy (neither of whom I've ever read). This experience has been ridiculously confusing for me in obvious ways. THANK YOU for clearing this up for me!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!


Melody Very happy to do that for you. Cormac McCarthy writes very gritty, blood-soaked prose which has also been called "Southern Gothic". He is a very keen observer and his writing presents a very clear picture of what he is attempting to communicate. Some people can't stomach that clear picture. I love him.


message 2: by Paul (new)

Paul Then there's Flannery O'Connor, not to be confused with either.


Melody And don't forget Eudora Welty (whose stories I sometime confuse with F. O'Connor's). Her short story "Why I Live at the P.O." might just be my most favorite bit of prose in all the world. She read it to my English club way back when I was a college student. And I can still hear her beautiful, thick, gracious southern voice, reading, no.... really it was more like singing or more accurately, telling, this quirky, strange, southern tale of near (but not quite) nonsense.


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