The Member of the Wedding is a carefully crafted story about a young girl on the verge of adolescence who is looking for a place to belong. Twelve-year-old Frankie Addams is bored and restless in her small Southern town in the closing days of World War II. The summer is dragging, and she spends most of her time with her widowed father’s housekeeper, Berenice Sadie Brown, and her young cousin, John Henry, when she longs to join the company of the older neighborhood girls. They snub her as too young and wild to be part of their group. The time and place come across most strongly in the unspoken rules the characters’ follow, and these contribute to Frankie’s troubles, that stem in large part from her lack of awareness. So many topics—the things Frankie needs most to know and understand—are not to be discussed. Frankie is afraid she will grow up to be a “freak” like the strange people she saw at the circus sideshow, but she dreams of growing up to have great adventures and international fame. She sees her brother’s upcoming wedding as her salvation and her escape, and she hatches a plan to leave with the newlyweds for a wonderful new life. Needless to say, things don’t work out the way Frankie hopes. Pay attention as you read: you may feel bored at first. This is part of the wonder of McCullers’s writing—through carefully chosen words and pacing she makes the reader feel what Frankie feels from boredom to irritation to surprise to being overwhelmed by the suddenness of life.
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