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Thresholds in Ferris Beach

Thresholds in Ferris Beach

Jill McCorkle’s Ferris Beach is an enchanting novel that depicts the intellectual and sociological development of Kate Burns. As Kate comes of age over the course of the story, she crosses numerous thresholds, each of which has a profound impact on her unique maturation. The thresholds mark the several stages of Kate’s life and stimulate her understanding of the complex world around her. Kate learns that she lives in a world of random chances and opportunities, a world where there are no guarantees, but there are infinite possibilities. As Kate crosses each threshold, she learns from her experience and employs her new knowledge in her everyday life, demonstrating her intellectual maturation.

The Rhodes’ move from Ferris Beach to their “split-level” in Fulton marks the first significant threshold in Kate’s life, and thus, the end of the “Helen Keller Game”. Kate is an only child, parented by an eccentric father and a distant mother, and blemished by a facial birthmark. The birthmark is a source of extreme anxiety and concern for Kate, who would do anything for a clear, untainted complexion. In an effort to comfort her daughter, Mrs. Burns tells Kate about many far worse disabilities that people have been faced with trying to put the birthmark in perspective. However, this comforting process serves as a catalyst for Kate’s creation of the Helen Keller game, in which Kate blindfolds herself and tries to find her way around her room. She finds the game very difficult and frustrating and realizes how difficult it was to really be handicapped. As Kate plays the Helen Keller game, she comes to terms with her birthmark and grows less and less concerned about her facial discoloration. When Misty move…

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…cond chances all around her serves as testimony to her that in a world of infinite possibilities, anything can happen.

Jill McCorkle’s Ferris Beach is a compelling story about Kate Burns’ coming of age. Kate endures tragedy in her friends’ lives and in her own life and encounters many educational processes over the course of her development. Kate’s diverse experiences serve as significant thresholds which educate her on the reality of her surrounding society. Kate learns that there are no guarantees in the random world around her, however, she also realizes that there are infinite possibilities. The beauty of Kate’s maturation is that the knowledge she acquires from all her bitter experiences provokes an overwhelming spirit of optimism. In a random world where anything is possible, optimism is vitally significant and is in itself a manifestation of beauty.

Ferris Beach: Automobiles and Motorcycles as Symbols

Ferris Beach: Automobiles and Motorcycles as Symbols

During adolescence, one makes a transition from a child to a young adult. It is common for an adolescent to be confused and frustrated with new ideas regarding morals and beliefs. People, places, and experiences teach adolescents about life and how to handle different situations., and the environments of the individuals become instrumental for their development. In the novel Ferris Beach, Jill McCorkle provides an example of the learning process of an adolescent girl in the 1970’s. Kate Burns accepts the changes of a shifting South and eventually embraces a change within herself. In McCorkle’s novel, cars and highways provide an index for understanding the new changes in the South. At this time, cars became possessions of most families and the automobile’s prevalence sparked many changes for adolescents in America. McCorkle uses the car in her novel as a “vehicle” for Kate Burns to learn about life and growing up.

The car was first considered a common household item in the 1970’s, which signified a sizable change in American life and increased opportunity for all people. One major change made with the increase in cars was the building of roads which McCorkle notes, “…Mrs. Poole rented out Brown’s Econo Lodge on Old 301, which had gone bust with the building of I-95” (McCorkle 35). The process of the old Econo Lodge being torn down and replaced by the new road calls for a lot of physical changes. The destruction of the Econo Lodge is comparable to Kate losing her girlish attributes. As the new road is being paved, Kate’s figure is maturing and taking on a more womanly shape. Most people enjoy knowing they have security in a situation and dislike periods of transition. Therefore, when towns across America experienced the construction of roads, citizens were anticipating and impatiently waiting its completion. Kate possess a similar attitude regarding the culmination of her adolescence. She longs for this growth to reach finality and hopes that she will someday appear as womanly as Angela, “…so young-looking and glamorous in her two-piece sparkly gold suit right below her navel (16).

The building of I-95 increased opportunities for those with cars. Distances between cities seemed shorter and many consumer goods became widely accessible. The ability to travel on modern roads allows Kate and her dad to make the trip to Ferris Beach.

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