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 partners, including most of Whistle Stop's male citizens, Flagg emphasizes that Eva loves only Buddy. Her sexual initiation of Buddy, Jr., better known as Stump, when he worries about how his absent arm might affect his performance with his girlfriend Peggy, is an act of love in memory of Idgie's brother.
Friendship is closely related to love and truth in this book. While Idgie loves Ruth, she has a deep friendship with Eva based on their mutual love of her brother Buddy and their interest in gambling and drinking, addictions foreign to Ruth's pious, ordered world. Idgie can act wildly unrestrained around Eva, but, with Ruth, she has to control her urges and be civilized. Symbolically, Ruth moves out when she catches Idgie in a lie concerning her whereabouts because Idgie yearns for momentary freedom, yet Idgie is devastated at the idea of losing Ruth and promises to respect their relationship by being honest. Freedom is another theme in this novel. Slagtown offers some freedom and social mobility to Jasper, Artis, and other blacks. Characters wish they had more control over their lives: Ninny wants to move home and claims that she is only at the nursing home to take care of Mrs. Otis, and Evelyn desires to be...
(The entire section is 1097 words.)