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.
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