Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Altering Personality in The Member of the Wedding (Annotation G4-7/Goddard)

A major theme of Carson McCullers' The Member of the Wedding is the concept of belonging. Frankie Addams, the main character, struggle is acceptance. As she grows in the short time in the story she fights to find belonging in an adult world. As she searches for her niche, she alters her personality by the changing of her name.
The first meeting of this character she is Frankie. During the summer at age twelve, Frankie “belonged to no club and was a member of nothing in the world,” (McCullers 1). During part one, Frankie is hurtful and jealous of those who are a member of something. Along with Bernice, the housekeeper and her cousin John Henry, it appears she belongs somewhere, at least to her family. Her main struggle during the opening of the story is her desire to belong to something outside of herself and her family. When the wedding of her brother Jarvis develops, Frankie's ardent desire is to leave her town and travel the world with him and his bride.
Enter F. Jasmine, who apparently tries to gain acceptance simply by the name. Her rationale behind the name is simple enough: brother Jarvis, bride Janice and now Jasmine. She finds identity simply because the initials are the same. Interestingly enough, as F. Jasmine wanders her town the day before the wedding she has a completely different approach to life. Since she believes she will be leaving town forever and traveling the world, she has an air of resignation. During the day's adventures she tells all the strangers of her town that she'll be leaving soon, and eventually she wanders into a bar. When she meets the soldier, she meets him with the new personality of F. Jasmine. During that last day she tries hard to alienate Bernice and John Henry. This second personality is one of danger and daring. F. Jasmine's reign in the story concludes late on the last night before the wedding when she meets the soldier again. In his room, she hits the young man as he tries to advance on her. F. Jasmine escapes, returns home with perhaps a little more humility.
The last incarnation is that of Frances. Frances accompanies the family to Winter Hill for the wedding. During the wedding she tries to leave with Jarvis and his bride, but to no avail. During this last transition she realizes that she cannot belong to the young married couple. Upon returning home, Frances runs away to find her own way in life. If her entire struggle is to find acceptance and a role for herself, the act of running away seems to negate that. During her time away Frances is alone. Being physically alone as Frances, is a manifestation of how Frankie, or F. Jasmine felt wandering through an adult world where she wants so badly to be a member of something. Ultimately when she returns home as Frances, the family moves into the suburbs where she ultimately finds a niche. Still not being a member she befriends Mary Littlejohn. The two girls find a little solace in one another and make their plans for the future.
In the three parts of the novel with the associated three parts of the young miss Addams, there is a definite personality shift. The patterns of what it means to be a member are treated a little differently each time, by Frankie, F. Jasmine and Frances.



McCullers, Carson. The Member of the Wedding. Bantam Books: New York, 1973. 

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