The Member of the Wedding
Study Questions and Suggested Essay Topics
In what way is The Member of the Wedding a bildungsroman or coming-of-age story? What clues does McCullers give to signify that the course of Frankie's maturity into adulthood is the foundation of the story, the main conflict?
What does this book say about racism and the state of black/white relations in the 1940s American south? Discuss the way that The Member of the Wedding serves as a kind of protest for the way races are divided.
How close is McCullers's narration to truly getting inside Frankie's head? Is she objective in her description of Frankie's thoughts and motivations, or does she editorialize them? Look into the way that she does or does not allow the reader to make his or her own inferences about Frankie's character.
Analyze the way that McCullers uses color in the novel. She makes constant reference to the vivid colors of nature, of eye color, and the like. What is she trying to communicate to her readers?
In what way is the title, The Member of the Wedding ironic? Might you say that you cannot judge a book by its cover because of such a misleading title? But at the same time, discuss the way that it plays up Frankie's elaborate fantasies.
Why does McCullers skip over Saturday afternoon in Part One and then switch back to the time period in Part Two? Why does she never describe Janis and Jarvis' visit except in retrospect? What does this adjustment in the linear plot say about the progression of time in general, particularly as it pertains to Frankie's concept of time?
What is the function of John Henry's character in the story? How does he serve as a foil for Frankie?
What is the role of fantasy in the novella? Are there any parts of the story which might not have actually happened and simply been a part of Frankie's imagination?
Why is Mr. Addams such a distant character? And what function does the absence of Frankie's mother play in the story?
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