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The Member of the Wedding: Novel Summary: Part Two, 3., pp. 123-139

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Part Two, 3., pp. 123-139

On her way to get her fortune told, F. Jasmine stops to stare at the jail, which the old Frankie used to regard warily. In the spring, she had stolen a knife from Sears and Roebuck, and she has felt guilty ever since. But now she is leaving town, so she is not wary anymore.

Next, F. Jasmine, with John Henry tagging along, heads to the colored part of town, Sugarville, to the house where Berenice lives with Big Mama and Honey Brown. She asks Big Mama, a bedridden old woman, to tell her fortune. Big mama looks into F. Jasmine’s face and says a change is coming for her. She looks at her palm and predicts a marriage to a blonde, blue-eyed boy. She also sees a “‘sum of money,”” and “‘the wedding of a near relation. And I foresee a trip ahead.’”  When F. Jasmine inquires further about the trip, Big Mama predicts a “‘departure and a return.’” F. Jasmine, of course, does not want to hear about a return.

Just then, Big Mama hollers at Honey Brown, in the next room, to get his feet off the table. She sees him in a mirror that allows her to see everything in the next room. Honey Brown comes into the parlor and says he will go to Fork Falls for the weekend. T.T. comes to the house to sit with Big Mama, and Honey Brown and F. Jasmine leave together. She tries to convince Honey not to go to Fork Falls but to Cuba or Mexico. Honey ignores her suggestion and walks off.

F. Jasmine and John Henry head to the middle of town, where the streets seems to have a carnival atmosphere. When she gets to The Blue Moon, she sends John Henry home and then goes into the bar to find the soldier. Once again, she feels that he is saying one thing but meaning another as he talks to her, and she cannot figure it all out.

Although F. Jasmine barely tastes her drink, the soldier becomes drunk and invites her upstairs to his room. She does not know how to say no, so she follows him up there. She feels uneasy in the quiet bedroom, and the soldier suddenly seems anything but worldly and exotic; he seems ugly to her as he stares at her with filmed, milky eyes. She connects the silence in the room to the same “forewarning hush that comes before an unknown trouble, a silence caused, not by lack of sounds, but by a waiting, a suspense.” She runs for the door, and he grabs her skirt and pushes her onto the bed. She bites his tongue as he kisses her, and when he tries to catch her again, she hits him over the head with a glass pitcher. As he lies crumpled on the floor, F. Jasmine climbs down the fire escape and runs away.

On her street, she sees John Henry and tells him she has just “‘brained a crazy man’” and she makes him promise not to tell anyone. She is afraid she will not be allowed to go to the wedding if she is in jail for killing a man. Her father finds her looking at library books and tells her to go to bed. She asks if a person might be dead if hit over the head with a pitcher, but she does not tell him she actually hit someone like that. She and John Henry, who is spending the night before the wedding, go to bed.

Analysis

There are no words yet in Frankie’s vocabulary for that nebulous state called womanhood, so when she is confronted with sex, she associates this unknown thing with silence, “a silence caused, not by lack of sounds, but by a waiting, a suspense.” The soldier’s words to her  speak of a reality that she cannot comprehend yet, and her childish mind grasps for meaning. Her instincts, however, save her.




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