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 happens. A boy at the supermarket hurls abuse at her. Bruised but not dead, she realizes she has survived her worst nightmare and sets about examining it. Her first reaction, and an important step in terms of her growth, is to realize that "Evelyn Couch was angry." The second is to be carried away by her superhero fantasy of Towanda.
In the midst of a Towanda episode, she talks back to Ed when he habitually asks her to bring him a beer. The inadvertent outburst leads to more...
(The entire section is 798 words.)