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Berenice as a foil of Frankie/F. Jasmine

by susan_shehane, June 08, 2014

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Berenice's voice rings like a bird's (McCullers 84), suggesting to Frankie that she is "really not in her right mind," even as the latter talks on and on about herself about herself "as though she was somebody very beautiful; this, despite her one wild blue eye, dregs down her face, etc. Frankie views her as something of a wild animal in the past and finds it almost humorous that Berenice always spoke of herself as though she were beautiful. In F. Jasmine's egocentric, 12-year-old world, where she is, of course, the center of the universe and the "problem to be solved," she cautions Berenice against advice -- she reminds her she's too old to think of love. In fact, she says, "I think you ought to quit worrying about beaus and be content with T.T. [the younger cousin in the house]. I bet you are forty years old. It is time for you to settle down," warns Frankie (F. Jasmine), for she alone deserves all the attention and the right to look for love. Berenice fires back, "Wisemouth. How do you know so much? I got as much right as anybody else to continue to have a good time so long as I can. And as far as that, I'm not so old as some peoples would try and make out. I can still ministrate. And I got many a long year ahead of me before I resign myself to a corner" (84).

With the age factor and their concept of beauty, both Berenice and F. Jasmine are at odds with the world. It is a world of black and white in which black is not beautiful, the rural South in the 1940's; and in which an odd-looking teenager can not find her identity. Berenice with her wild blue eye is a reminder that their lives cross and mingle while they are at odds in a world where neither is accepted nor fully recognized as human yet.
©Susan Shehane 2014

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