Love is one of the most powerful forces in the world, and one of the most difficult to describe. It is one of those emotions that words do not seem to justify a person may feel it, but may not be able to explain it. However, that does not mean that people do not know that love is out there. Many people believe that everyone has one true love somewhere in the world, and spend their lives searching for that person. Love is not difficult to find though. It exists in many forms, including love between family members, friends, different races, and even the love for oneself, both in the novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Frannie Flagg and in one’s own life.
The first and most basic form of love is found in the family. From the time a child is born, in usual circumstances, that child is loved unconditionally. A person grows up with their family, and is able to express who they really are. Because of this, ties within the family are usually quite strong. Take for example the relationship between Idgie and Buddy: Idgie (Imogene), a dare-devilish tomboy, and her older brother Buddy are quite close until Buddy’s untimely death. Idgie takes his passing with difficulty: “You never saw anybody hurt so much. I thought she would die right along with him” (Flagg, p.37). Another example of the love felt within a family is Stump (Buddy Jr.), who is Ruth’s son, Ruth herself, and Idgie. Stump’s father is murdered, and grows up with Ruth and Idgie as his parents. Ruth and Idgie do everything possible to try and keep Stump happy. In fact, when Stump is feeling self-conscious about being with a female in the sexual sense, it is Idgie who arranges for him to have intercourse with a friend of hers: “‘It’s just that I’m scared, Aunt Idgie. I’m just plain scared'” (Flagg, p.266). “The door of the cabin opened, and a freshly bathed, powdered, and perfumed woman with rust-colored hair and apple-green eyes said, ‘Come on in, sugar,’ as Idgie drove away” (Flagg, p.267). Also, another example of family love is how hard Jasper Peavey works, and how he scrapes to white people to get enough money to support his family: “The burial policy for his family was paid off, he had sent all four of his children through college, and not one of them would ever have to live off tips. That was the one thought that had kept him going all the hard, long, back-breaking years” (Flagg, p.320). His grandson is embarrassed by how his grandfather acts, but Jasper still managed to succeed when he was younger. The fact that his grandson is able to be embarrassed proves the success if Jasper had done poorly, the grandson would not be well off, and would be bowing and scraping to whites just as his grandfather had.
A more unusual type of love for the setting is the love between black and white races. The blacks are faced by many problems, especially in the South mid-century, but they seem to jump to the occasion and succeed against poor odds. Idgie and Ruth both admire and care about the blacks in the story. When Onzell kills Frank Bennet, Idgie knows that the law would have her killed, so she risks her own freedom by going to trial as the accused. This is proof that Idgie is fond of Onzell and Big George, and even loves them if she’s willing to take such a chance. As well, Onzell feels great loyalty towards Ruth she kills a man to try and protect Ruth’s baby. Onzell is almost like another mother to Stump, and a good friend of Ruth and Idgie’s. Another black/white relationship with love involved is the one between Sipsey and the Threadgoode family. Sipsey is their servant, but they treat her like another member of the family. She is there for Idgie to talk to, and whenever Idgie “couldn’t bear to be home any longer, she’d just take off and go stay with Sipsey over in Troutville” (Flagg, p.37). Finally, there is the love that Evelyn has not for the blacks, but for what they do to her. When she attends Martin Luther King Memorial Baptist Church, she is “freed”. She is fascinated by how energetic the service is, and by the beautiful people that attend: “She felt her heart open and fill with the pure wonder of being alive and making it through” (Flagg, p.312).
A more familiar type of love is the love that exists between friends. There are many examples of the love that goes along with friendship in the novel. Idgie and Ruth become friends when the two of them are fairly young. Idgie, when she first meets Ruth, is attracted to her: “‘Now, children, your sister has a crush…'” (Flagg, p.81). The two of them would have done anything for each other. “‘You know, Ruth, I’d kill for you… I’d die for you'” (Flagg, p.86). When Idgie learns that Ruth’s husband Frank is abusing her, Idgie threatens him, gets Ruth out of that situation, and takes her back to Whistle Stop. The pair begins the Whistle Stop Cafe, and spends the rest of their lives together until Ruth passes away. Also, there is the friendship that exists between Evelyn Couch and Ninny (Virginia) Threadgoode, a middle-aged woman going through menopause and an elderly woman in a nursing home, respectively. They become friends out of loneliness Evelyn’s mother-in-law, who resides at the nursing home as well, doesn’t want to see her, and Ninny doesn’t have any visitors to keep her company. By listening to the stories of the past that Ninny tells her, Evelyn gets more self-confidence and is no longer so dismal.
Finally, throughout the novel, the author develops the idea of accepting and loving oneself. This is shown in the changes that occur to several of the characters as the novel moves along. Evelyn Couch shows the most significant change in the novel. She is portrayed as a submissive, depressed woman with no self-esteem at the beginning of the story: “This morning, as they drove out to the nursing home, she Evelyn realized that her life was becoming unbearable… The quiet hysteria and awful despair had started when she finally began to realize that nothing was ever going to change… She began to feel as if she were at the bottom of a well, screaming, no one to hear” (Flagg, p.63). As Evelyn becomes friends with Ninny, she learns from her that it is pointless to feel so hopeless and despondent. After Evelyn manages to rid herself of her alter-ego, Towanda the Avenger, she begins to understand and feel good about herself. She also attends a weight-loss spa where she “found her group, the group she had been looking for all her life” (Flagg, p.374). By the end of the novel, Evelyn is a happy, well-adjusted middle-aged woman who is finally able to love herself.
Love can be uncovered almost anywhere. In the novel by Frannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, love is a powerful force that is found in many forms: love between family members, love between friends, love between races, and the love that a person has for themselves. This love is important because without it there would be an extensive amount of fighting between people, and a greater lack of respect between citizens. To maintain the sanity of the world, there must be love.
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