The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers

I enjoyed reading The Member of the Wedding. It started out slow, but picked up depth and character as it moved along. The story is mostly about Frankie, a 12-year old girl who wants to go out into the world and become somebody. She can imagine who that person is that she wants to become. She can feel it. But she can’t explain it. In an attempt to make others see her the way that she wants to be seen, Frankie changes her name to F. Jasime and begins to look down on the childish ways of her past, on the town she lives in, and on the people that live there. But despite all her pretending, inside F. Jasmine is still the same insecure, naive Frankie that she was before.

Spoiler Alert
Eventually F. Jasmine attends a wedding that she has dreamed about the whole story, a wedding that she believes will open up the world to her and transform her into the person she thinks she should become. But the wedding doesn’t turn out the way she hopes it would turn out. In fact she is downright disappointed, and she returns home to the town she thought she was leaving forever, to the house she thought she would never see again, and to the life she thought was no longer hers. Instead of glamorous and fulfilled, F. Jasmine finds herself broken and desperate.

“If there was only somebody to tell her what to do and where to go and how to get there.”

It is at this point that Frankie/F. Jasmine transforms not into the person that she thought she wanted to be, but into the person that she was meant to be. And with that change comes confidence, purpose, and a richness to life that she previously only imagined possible by running away and traveling around the world as a celebrity. At the end of the story Frankie/F. Jasmine is Frances. She is finally going places as her father is moving the family. The characters that she has shared so much with are also moving on in their own ways. Frances seems to have found a place in the world. And the world loves her for it.

Although the story moves slowly at first, it develops quite nicely, and by the end it is moving along at a reasonable pace.There are a lot of interesting descriptions of life in a small, Southern town. And the author has drawn up a convincing collection of characters with colorful things to say. There are many insights into life and reality throughout the story. I especially liked how Frankie wonders if the “green” that one person sees is the same “green” that another sees. I could read The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers again some time in the future and enjoy it. For this reason I give the story 4 out of 5 stars. You should read this book if you like realistic fiction, “coming of age” stories, or stories about small towns.

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