Race and Racism
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café explores the width and depth of race and racism. While the evidence of racism is obvious, discussion of the situation is hushed and never crosses the color line. In fact, the only person who successfully crosses that line is Idgie, who simply doesn't understand the world in those terms.
Mrs. Threadgoode and Evelyn discuss race in terms of fear. "You know, a lot of these people resent having colored nurses out here. One of them said that deep down, all colored people hate white people and if those nurses got a chance, they'd kill us off in our sleep." Evelyn later realizes that her mother raised her to fear blacks. The novel, except to hint that time is the best teacher, provides no solution to racism. If people like Evelyn can realize that, despite their liberal opinions, they are squeamish, then perhaps they can make an effort to at least cease propagating fear to their children.
A major step in Evelyn's progression toward being a self-possessed adult is being aware of society's prescribed gender coding. She realizes for herself what the feminist movement of the 1970s had been trying to tell her—it's a man's world. She had been terrified of "displeasing men" her whole life. Consequently, she walks on tiptoes, as if in "a cow pasture" in order to avoid the words a man might say to her. One day, by accident, it...
(The entire section is 798 words.)
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Family and home are the primary themes of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Friendship, and not genetics, determines familial relationships in Flagg's novel. The Threadgoode surname embodies these themes. Not only do the Threadgoodes exhibit goodness toward everybody, but they also are the thread that connects the disparate parts of the Whistle Stop community. Mrs. Threadgoode's maiden name, Cloud, suggests cliched meanings symbolizing optimism and happiness such as "every cloud has a silver lining" and "on cloud 9." Characters in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe are searching for a home and a sense of place. The Threadgoodes offer security and acceptance to orphans such as Ninny and their children's love interests such as Ruth. The Rose Terrace Nursing Home provides a community that parallels the childhood enjoyed by the youthful residents of Whistle Stop.
Love is a recurrent theme in the book. Characters experience love and respect for their biological kin, such as demonstrated by Idgie's devotion to Buddy and Ninny's acceptance of Albert. Love is also present in romances, which are described as deep, emotional bonds between couples and not overtly depicted as erotic. Flagg honors couples' and friends' intimacies by not exploiting private interactions unless they are crucial to plot resolution, such as the disposal of Frank Bennett's body. Although Eva is portrayed as an intensely sexual woman who has had many...
(The entire section is 1097 words.)