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 The Member of the Wedding Study Guide (Choose to Continue)

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The Member of the Wedding: Novel Summary: Part Three, pp. 158-163

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Part Three, pp. 158-163

Time passes, and it is late November. Frances has turned thirteen and is helping Berenice pack up the kitchen because she and her father are moving to the suburbs, into a house they are sharing with Aunt Pet and Uncle Ustace, and Berenice is leaving to marry T.T. at last. “It was not the same kitchen of the summer that now seemed so long ago,” she notes.

She is making sandwiches because her friend, Mary Littlejohn, is coming to spend the last night in the house with her and accompany her to the new house tomorrow. Berenice makes it clear that she does not like Mary, who is catholic and high-minded, into art and poetry, and nothing at all like Berenice. All of these things make her attractive to Frances, however. She seems exotic.

Frances had met Mary in the middle of October, when so many other things happened to change her life. First, Honey Brown was arrested for breaking into a pharmacy and stealing drugs. Berenice was so preoccupied with his predicament that she did not pay mind to John Henry, who complained of a terrible headache. Ten days later, John Henry was dead from meningitis. John Henry’s death does not seem real to Frances until the day of the funeral, when “she saw the coffin, and then she knew.” Still, she goes on with school, with Mary, and with her life.

Jarvis writes from Luxembourg, telling about his and Janice’s house there. Frances, who has talked with Mary about touring the world to look at art, says, “‘We will most likely pass through Luxembourg when we go around the world together.’” She starts to continue on, “‘I am simply mad about—’” but she is interrupted by Mary ringing the doorbell. That sound sends a “shock of happiness” through her.

Analysis

Frankie has, with the resilience of a child, forgotten the summer and moved on with growing up—this time at the proper rate. Fantasies once again play in her mind, but they seem like the fantasies of a child dreaming of growing up, rather than the obsessions of a girl wanting to already be grown up. John Henry’s death has taught her that death is a real thing, but she is Frankie—lively, imaginative, and very much alive—and that is her strength.




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