Places: The Member of the Wedding

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1946

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Impressionistic realism

Time of work: 1945

Places DiscussedGeorgia town

Georgia Member of the Wedding, Thetown. Unnamed and typically southern community that is Frankie’s hometown. Frankie spends much of this hot August weekend walking to town, downtown to her father’s jewelry store just off the main street, for example, and later to Sugarville, the Black section of town where Berenice Sadie Brown and her mother live, and to the Blue Moon, a bar where Frankie has her adventures with the red-haired soldier.

Addams home

Addams home. Small house on 124 Grove Street, some blocks from the main section of town. Frankie, her cousin John Henry West, aged six, and the Addams’s cook Berenice have spent the summer sitting in the Addams’s kitchen, playing cards and talking. If Frankie feels stuck between childhood and adolescence, this house, with John Henry’s childlike drawings on the kitchen walls, and Frankie’s sleeping-porch bedroom, perfectly reflects her condition. At the end of the novel, Frankie’s father decides to move her to another house on the outskirts of town with relatives, which signals the changes that have occurred in Frankie.

Winter Hill

Winter Hill. Georgia site of the wedding of Frankie’s brother Jarvis and Janice Evans, and the goal of all Frankie’s dreams. Frankie plans to break out of her preadolescent jail by joining Jarvis and Janice on their honeymoon; after the wedding her father has to drag her out of their car. Winter Hill (like much of the novel’s imagery) thus symbolizes the freedom that maturity will bring, in contrast to Frankie’s hot, last summer of childhood.

BibliographyBloom, Harold, ed. Carson McCullers. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. Barbara A. White’s “Loss of Self in The Member of the Wedding” interprets Frankie as a confused tomboy neither wanting to remain a child nor to become a woman. Excellent source for discussion of novella.Box, Patricia S. “Androgyny and the Musical Vision: A Study of Two Novels by Carson McCullers.” Southern Quarterly 16 (1978): 117-123. This article provides insight into Frankie and her concern with gender issues.Carr, Virginia S. The Lonely Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1975. Written from a feminist perspective, this biography provides photographs as well as many useful insights into McCullers as a person and the writing of the novel.Chamlee, Kenneth D. “Cafés and Community in Three McCullers Novels.” Studies in American Fiction 18 (Autumn, 1990): 233-240. The bar at the Blue Moon, like the café in The Ballad of the Sad Café, is a place where personal encounters bring about personal insights that lead to growth.Cook, Richard M. Carson McCullers. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1975. A biography containing a twenty-two-page chapter on The Member of the Wedding, along with a helpful chronology and index. Defends the novelist’s concern with human isolation.Evans, Oliver. The Ballad of Carson McCullers: A Biography. New York: Coward, McCann, 1966. Encompasses incisive comments on McCullers’ work and a detailed chapter on The Member of the Wedding, citing its autobiographical nature and analyzing disparate critical reviews. Valuable for detailing connections between McCullers’ life and fiction.Graver, Lawrence. Carson McCullers. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1969. Helpfully condensed discussion of the author’s life and work. Views The Member of the Wedding as a journey of adolescent initiation, combining early dissatisfaction with jubilant hope and disillusionment with wisdom about life’s limits.McCullers, Carson. The Mortgaged Heart. Edited by Margarita G. Smith. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971. This collection of short stories and personal essays by McCullers is an important primary source for information on her life as well as her motives and practices in writing.McDowell, Margaret. Carson McCullers. Boston: Twayne, 1980. Insightful discussion of The Member of the Wedding that stresses the novelist’s thematic concerns with time as it relates to life’s stages, and isolation and the fear of independence applied to the novella’s three major characters.
Categories: Places