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THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING FREE NOTES / ONLINE SUMMARY
STUDY QUESTIONS - BOOK REPORT IDEAS
1) Analyze McCullers’ use of the child’s point of view to narrate the novel. What does this point of view enable and what does it limit McCullers from doing in telling the story of Frankie Addams’ last childhood summer?
2) Examine the issue of race in the novel. How does McCullers view the racial divide in the town and the racist institutions of the town such as the legal, civil, and employment institutions?
3) Analyze Berenice as a mother figure in the novel. What makes her an unusual mother figure to Frankie Addams and John Henry West?
4) Examine Frankie as an artist figure. What are her potential areas of artistry and what personality characteristics make Frankie a likely artist figure?
5) What is the place of the Blue Moon cafe in the world of Frankie’s rite of passage from childhood into adolescent girlhood?
6) Map Frankie’s sojourn through town on the day she goes to buy her wedding dress. What does this map of the town tell us about the social-economic structure of mid-century southern society?
7) Why does McCullers build up to the wedding and then write it as a sort of anti-climax in the novel?
8) Discuss Frankie’s encounters with the red-haired soldier, especially the climax scene in his room. Why does McCullers write this scene as the climax of the novel?
9) Trace Frankie’s fantasies about what she will do in her future life. Do you see a progress towards maturity or are the fantasies the same throughout?
10) Evaluate the end of the novel. What does it tell you about McCullers’ sense of the realities of life?
COMMENT ON THE STUDY OF LITERATURE
The study of literature is not like the study of math or science, or even history. While those disciplines are based largely upon fact, the study of literature is based upon interpretation and analysis. There are no clear-cut answers in literature, outside of the factual information about an author's life and the basic information about setting and characterization in a piece of literature. The rest is a highly subjective reading of what an author has written; each person brings a different set of values and a different background to the reading. As a result, no two people see the piece of literature in exactly the same light, and few critics agree on everything about a book or an author.
In this study guide, we have tried to give an objective literary analysis based upon the information actually found in the novel, book, or play. In the end, however, it is an individual interpretation, but one that we feel can be readily supported by the information that is presented in the guide. In your course of literature study, you or your professor/teacher may come up with a different interpretation of the mood or the theme or the conflict. Your interpretation, if it can be logically supported with information contained within the piece of literature, is just as correct as ours; so is the interpretation of your teacher or professor.
Literature is simply not a black or white situation; instead, there are many gray areas that are open to varying analyses. Your task is to come up with your own analysis that you can logically defend. Hopefully, these booknotes will help you to accomplish that goal.