7. Idgie Threadgoode – Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café
It’s a commonly held belief that books are typically better than the movies made out of them. While Fried Green Tomatoes was actually a pretty good movie, this belief holds true regarding the original source material as well. The original source material, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, offers an even deeper, richer look at the two central women whose lives propel the narrative along its path than the movie could afford to. This is particularly true with Idgie Threadgoode, who some might say is the heart and soul of the novel itself.
Young Idgie starts life as a brazen tomboy, refusing to wear dresses or behave daintily. Her family is somewhat exasperated with her, but loves her just the same. However, young Idgie is changed forever once she witnesses her beloved brother’s untimely death. She withdraws into herself and pushes away from her family, living alone in the woods for long stretches of time. In a final act of desperation, Idgie’s mother asks her dead son’s girlfriend, Ruth, to come and try reaching Idgie.
It’s Idgie who ends up reaching Ruth, however. Idgie has established a life for herself which is quite rich and through the attempt to bring Idgie back to her family’s world, Ruth gets drawn into Idgie’s way of life. The two women grow to be exceedingly close and when the end of summer comes and Ruth goes off to marry her fiancé, Idgie’s heart is ripped in two. It isn’t until much later, when Idgie learns that pregnant Ruth’s being abused by her husband, that she swoops in to save the day. That’s only the beginning of the tale for these two, as the life they build together is still rich and very captivating.
In the climate of the Depression-era South, Idgie Threadgoode certainly stands out in a memorable way. She shows some of the more typical lesbian tendencies in her characterization, but this doesn’t detract at all from the soul that shines through her. She’s brave, both in speaking her mind and standing up to any number of intimidating men. She’s soft, showing her care, devotion, and love to both Ruth and those she cares about around her. Perhaps most importantly, Idgie demonstrates just how strong and deep love can run, showing that love’s generosity can not only transform two individuals, but reach out and better an entire community.
Tags: books, Deep South, devotion, Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes, gay character, gay-nerds, Great Depression, Idgie Threadgoode, lesbian character, lesbian lovers, lesbian nerds, lesbian romance, life partners, literature, Mary Stuart Masterson, movie adaptation, Ruth Jamison, sisterhood, Top 10, Whistle Stop Cafe