The Member of the Wedding

The Role of Social Constructs in McCullers' "Member of the Wedding" 11th Grade

In the novel Member of the Wedding, by Carson McCullers, the story of young Frankie Addams is told as she begins to navigate the world, documenting from her perspective, her exposure to harsh reality of the world as she begins to develop into a young woman. The time period from which the novel is from was characterized by division, including racial and gender discrimination, as well as strong marginalization on the basis of sexuality. Through the technique of characterization, McCullers highlights the effect of these social constructs in creating a divisive society which ultimately marginalized its people.

Through the characterization of John Henry, McCullers highlights the divisive nature of gender binaries and gender identity. John Henry is described “[wearing] a jonquil dress” (McCullers124). The use of the word jonquil, which is a perennial yellow flower, depicts the femininity of his character, as flowers are typically associated with feminine characteristics. Furthermore, his wearing of the dress reinforces the effeminate gender identity that is attributed to John Henry. There are clear character similarities with Lily Mae Jenkins, particularly in their choice of feminine clothing. Lily, a boy who had changed his gender...

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