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CHAPTER NOTES / ANALYSIS - THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING BY CARSON MCCULLERS
John Henry brings Berenice back to the topic of the beaus paying her way. F. Jasmine wants to know who paid when she took the trip to Fairview and rode on the airplane with the African-American pilot. Berenice answers that T. T. paid. She says she couldn’t possibly have made that trip since she makes nothing but six dollars a week. F. Jasmine next wants to know if other people call the dish she likes so much hopping-john. Berenice says she’s heard it called peas and rice as well, but she can’t say what people in Europe call it. F. Jasmine tells Berenice that a funny thing happened to her and she can hardly say what it was. Suddenly someone begins to tune a piano and everyone exclaims over the horrible sound of a piano being tuned. F. Jasmine stands very still in front of the kitchen table and "the gray of the kitchen was a stale gray and the room was too flat and too square." They sit and listen as the notes are tested on the out-of-tune piano. F. Jasmine remarks that she has heard that in Milledgeville, they punish people by tying them up and making them listen to piano tuning.
Then she asks Berenice what she would think if she ran into someone who seemed terribly peculiar but she didn’t know why. She adds that the person might seem to be drunk, but might not be and he might want you to join him and go to a big party or dance. Berenice says she might go with him to the party and then look for someone better. After she says this, she narrows her eyes and asks F. Jasmine why she asks the question. F. Jasmine tries to figure out how to tell Berenice about the stranger, but then the phone rings. No one is on the other line, but the interruption sets F. Jasmine on another topic. She wants to have her fortune read before she leaves town. Berenice asks to see the new dress, so F. Jasmine goes up to her room and puts it on, then comes downstairs and models it. Berenice thinks the dress looks like someone is making a Christmas tree out of herself in August. John Henry likes it. F. Jasmine says the dress can’t be returned, so Berenice tries to make it fit better in the waist. As they talk, they hear the piano tuner, Mr. Schwarzenbaum, tuning the piano. F. Jasmine says it feels like he is trying to torment them, but Berenice assures her that people tune pianos in just this way all over the world.
John Henry remarks that Uncle Charles is dead and they are going to a wedding.
F. Jasmine feels that Berenice is thinking of all the dead people she
knows. F. Jasmine thinks of all she has known. She doesn’t count her mother
in the number since she never knew her mother. She has known several dead
people. She asks Berenice if she often thinks about Ludie. Berenice replies,
"You know I do." She says Ludie never would have let her be
lonesome so she had to get involved with so many "no-good men."
"Of all the dead people in the world, Ludie Freeman was the one F.
Jasmine knew the best." When Berenice talks about her life with Ludie,
she talks slowly and deliberately and the words begin to sound like a
song. Berenice remarks that sometimes she wishes she hadn’t known Ludie
because it spoiled her too much and left her feeling lonesome afterwards.
F. Jasmine reminds Berenice that T. T. Williams is a good man and asks
if Berenice will marry him. Berenice says if she married T. T., she would
be able to quit her job and stand behind a cash register tapping her foot,
but that she won’t marry T. T. because he doesn’t make her shiver.
F. Jasmine says thoughts of the wedding make her shiver.
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. 09 May 2017