Carson McCullers seeks to elaborate the difficulties of adolescence as an individual transition from childhood to adulthood through the life and events that Frankie Adams a young girl in her adolescence experiences. As an adolescent, Frankie Adams is undergoing sexual and emotional awakening that will change her perspective towards life as a whole. Frankie Adams is young and naive unaware of the transition and change in both physical and behavioral characteristics that she needs to undergo to become an adult. Carson McCullers seeks to show how the young adolescent Frankie Adams triumphs over immaturity and loneliness to be able to assume a new identity. During adolescent Carson McCullers shows that Frankie Adams is lonely and isolated from the community and her family members whom she thinks does not understand her. Having two family members alive and without a mother figure Frankie Adams has to go through puberty alone with a lot that she does not understand. In most cases, young people going through the transition from childhood to adulthood require counsel from their relatives and elder siblings. However, in the case of Frankie Adams, she has to learn the hard way growing up with her busy father who places more importance on his jewelry repair business than his growing daughter. In this case, if Frankie Adams had a female figure and model like a mother or an elder sister she could have been able to understand the transition she was going through and also she could easily access the answers to the questions she had (Dalsimer, Katherine 442).
The case of Frankie Adams shows that young people and especially those that are transitioning from childhood to early adulthood require good counsel to guide them towards making the right and more responsible decisions. The inability of her brother and father to offer her support makes Frankie Adams bitter and she further becomes more isolated. Communication is a significant challenge experienced by most young people who are going through adolescence. In this case, Frankie Adams desire to seek someone to associate with leads her to a soldier whom she is unable to make a conversation with despite her earlier thought that communication is easy. "In the silent room, he seemed to her unjoined and ugly" (McCullers, Carson p. 759). According to this quote, Carson McCullers shows the inability of young people to make meaningful and unsuspicious decisions. The author notes the importance of counsel during the adolescent age because of the different activities and events. For instance, Bernice who is able to make a connection with Frankie Adams shows that young people need someone to show them the way and usher them into adulthood. Without proper guidance, young people can make mistakes like in the case of Frankie who wanted to accompany the bride and the groom to their honeymoon (McKinnie, Betty E., and Carlos L. Dews p. 87).
Another important aspect of being young identified by Carson McCullers is the need of belonging. Young people want to be identified with something and to be noticed. At adolescence, Frankie Adams wants to be noticed as different from how she was noticed when she was young through her dressing and association with the groom and the bride. Through her desire to become something else, Frankie Adams dresses up for the wedding hoping that she will be identified as unique and not a child that she has been for twelve years. "This was the summer when for a long time she had not been a member. She belonged to no club and was a member of nothing in the world" (461). In this quote, the author indicates the inability of Frankie to have a specific sense of belonging due to the tomboy nature that alienates her. Carson McCullers indicates that Frankie changed her name severally as she was trying to fit into different personalities and the creation of a new identity that is different from her childhood identity (McCullers, Carson 461). Frankie Adam sexual development is explored in the Novel by Carson McCullers when she uses the scene of the soldier. In the beginning, Frankie wants to experience new things and also to be considered as an adult. However, it dawns on her that she is not yet ready when she goes out with a soldier and he attempts to have sex with her. At this point, Frankie is aware of sexuality and sexual desires and realizes how wrong she was when she thought that she could join her brother and the bride to their honeymoon (Hsu, Jen-yi, p. 4).
Berenice Sadie Brown
Berenice is the voice of reason in the novel and she provides guidance and good counsel to Frankie to ensure that she makes better decisions. Berenice having been through love, sex and relationships she understands well the predicaments of Frankie Adams as she seeks to be recognized as an adult. Therefore, Berenice is the voice of reason and provides counsel on the reality of life to Frankie by explaining to Frankie of what her feelings and motives are and their consequences. Giving her example, Berenice is an example of the true reality of lack of belonging because she lives in a white people neighborhood and she has to cope with being different. The main role that Berenice plays in the novel is to seek reconciliation between differences through her wise character who tries to make Frankie to accept herself and to appreciate her situation. Berenice listens to Frankie dilemmas and ordeals as she explores her adolescence experiences. When the soldier tries to sleep with Frankie she confides with Berenice of what ensued and Berenice provides counsel to Frankie with the aim of ending her naivety. Berenice character as a voice of reason in the novel is again exemplified when she persuades Frankie not to join Jarvis and Janice in their honeymoon by giving an example of Noah during the time of the Ark where only a pair of two animals were allowed at a time which indicated there was no room for her in her brothers marriage (Hsu, Jen-yi, p. 5).
Berenice is able to guide Frankie and play the role of a parent and counselor in her young transitioning life. The character of Berenice indicates that every young person under transition requires a wise and experienced person to provide guidance on different life issues such as relationships. Without Berenice guidance, Frankie could have learned the hard way from the experiences of her mistakes. However, Berenice uses her experiences to show Frankie the way and how to make the best decisions as she transitions to an adult. Berenice tries her best to explain to Frankie the laws of nature and sex without actually mentioning sex. In this case, there is a boundary of what Berenice can teach Frankie and Frankie will have to experience them by herself (McCullers, Carson p. 5).
Dalsimer, Katherine. "From preadolescent tomboy to early adolescent girl: An analysis of Carson McCullers's The Member of the Wedding." The Psychoanalytic study of the child 34.1 (1979): 445-461.
Hsu, Jen-yi. "Queer Temporalities in Carson McCullers's The Member of the Wedding." P. 3-5
McCullers, Carson. The member of the wedding. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004. P. 5-100
McKinnie, Betty E., and Carlos L. Dews. "The Delayed Entrance of Lily Mae Jenkins: Queer Identity, Gender Ambiguity, and Southern Ambivalence in Carson McCullers's The Member of the Wedding." Carson McCullers (2009): 87-98.
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