Frankie Addams is a twelve-year-old adolescent who is on the cusp of sexual and emotional awakening. Her angst comes in the form of extreme isolation and loneliness, because she feels totally disconnected from the world around her. She is not the member of any group. So she becomes obsessed with the fact that she is to be a member of the wedding of her brother Jarvis. She places all her hopes and dreams on this event. She hopes not only to make a connection with another group of human beings, but also to shed herself of her childhood persona.
But the task of escaping childhood is easier said than done. Frankie attempts to make surface changes to give the outward impression that she has suddenly transitioned into a womanlier phase in her life. However, the reality stands that she is incredibly naïve and ill-prepared for the adult world. This is particularly evident when it comes to matters of sex. Frankie is utterly ignorant about the subject and reacts with horror when she experiences or witnesses anything remotely sexual. Through use of imagery, McCullers subtlely hints that Frankie has not yet menstruated. And though Frankie probably does not know what menstruation is, she somehow knows to fear the coming of her period. In order to truly reach a greater level of maturity, she must use her experiences in the novel to end her naïveté and become less afraid of adulthoods many harsh realities.
A further reality Frankie must come to understand is what love is and what it means to be in a relationship with another person. In this quest, she is lucky to have the ever wise Berenice, who councils Frankie on the nature of love. Berenice cautions Frankie not to make the mistake of deluding herself to believe that Jarvis and Janice are going to take her away with them after the wedding.
Frankie is the archetypal coming-of-age character. Young and naïve, she must go through a relatively brief, but challenging experience of self-awakening in order to grow and learn. So that in the end one part of her has died-the child self-and another older version has grown and blossomed.