|“||See, now is a time for courage. I guess you already know that there are angels masquerading as people walking around this planet and your mom was the bravest one of those.||„|
|~ Idgie on courage.|
Imogene "Idgie" Threadgoode is one of the primary characters in the novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café and the 1991 movie Fried Green Tomatoes.
Idgie grew up in Whistle Stop near Birmingham, Alabama. The younger sister of Buddy Threadgoode the tomboy Idgie was profoundly affected by the untimely death of her brother in a train accident. Having a hard time dealing with her grief she distanced herself from her family. Eventually the straight laced Ruth Jamison came to live with the Threadgoode family and was able to break through the shell Idgie had built up around herself. The two women soon became friends despite their very different backgrounds. Ruth took to calling Idgie The Bee Charmer due to Idgie's adeptness at retrieving honey from bee hives.
Idgie was depressed when Ruth married Frank Bennett and moved with him to Valdosta, Georgia. When visiting Ruth seemed cool and distant, afraid not only of what Frank would do to her but what Idgie might do if she found out that Frank was beating Ruth.
Ruth soon became pregnant. At about the same time her mother died. Idgie returned with Big George and another friend, and Ruth decided she finally had enough of Frank. When Frank pushed her down a flight of steps Idgie threatened to kill Frank if he ever touched her again.
Back in Whistle Stop Ruth and Idgie took money given to them by Ruth's father and started the Whistle Stop Cafe. Along with the barbecue the place also became known for its fried green tomatoes.
Being in the Ku Klux Klan Frank and his cohorts travelled to Whistle Stop. While his KKK buddies set about burning crosses and attempting to intimidate local residents, Frank went to the Whistle Stop Cafe and tried to kidnap Ruth's baby. When drifter Smokey Lonesome tried to stop him from leaving Frank punched him, however Smokey refused to stay down, refusing to let Frank go anywhere with Ms. Ruth's baby. Frank attacked Smokey again before the cook Sipsey whacked him in the back of a head with a frying pan, killing him.
Idgie, Big George, and Sipsey realized even though it was justifiable homicide the Jim Crow era justice system would never excuse Bennett's death at the hands of a black person. Idgie and Big George barbecued Frank Bennett's body on the cafe's large outdoor barbecue. Sheriff Curtis Smoote - who was in town investigating Frank's disappearance - unwittingly ate part of Frank's remains and remarked how good the barbecue was. Sipsey told Smoote the secret was in the sauce. Smoote considered Idgie his prime suspect. Smoote sat her down and told her that she didn't fool him, and that he was the law and no one could beat the law. Smoote made sure to pay a visit to Big George to question and intimidate him as well.
Frightened that Frank had found her Ruth considered leaving. When Idgie told her she would never again have to worry about Frank, Ruth thought perhaps Idgie had killed Frank. Idgie denied it and said that she would only tell Ruth once that she no longer had to worry about Frank.
Over the next few years Smoote tried to find out what happened to Frank. When Frank's truck was found in a nearby river Idgie and Big George were arrested and transported to Georgia. Ruth gave an impassioned defence of Idgie - saying that the other woman was her best friend and she loved her.
When the local pastor Rev. Scroggins came up he said he wanted to swear on his own bible. Agreeing to that the prosecutor let him hold up his book - which was actually a copy of Moby Dick. Scroggins then proceeded to tell the courtroom that at the time Frank disappeared Idgie and Big George were with him at a 3 day revival meeting.
The judge ordered the lawyers to the bench. Once there he told the prosecutor Percy that there was no body, and a preacher whose testimony no one would want to dispute. He went on to say that Frank probably got himself drunk, drove into the river, and was eaten by the wildlife in the river. Declaring that he didn't give a damn, he ruled Frank's death an accident and dismissed all charges against Idgie and Big George. Ruth told Idgie that her penance for doing that would be to come to Scroggins' church henceforth on Sundays. Idgie said she didn't know what was worse, church or jail.
After the trial life went on pretty much as it did before until Ruth was diagnosed with cancer. By then it was too late to do anything. Idgie shut down the cafe and took care of her friend full time. Realizing that she was dying Ruth asked her friend to make sure her son Buddy Jr. finished school. Ruth asked Idgie to tell her the story about the ducks who took a frozen lake and moved it over to Georgia - which was Ruth's favorite story. Ruth passed while Idgie recounted the story. Realizing her friend was gone Idgie was moved to tears while Sipsie did what she could to comfort Idgie.
Idgie kept Buddy Jr. company during his mother's funeral and it was implied she took care of him afterwards. Idgie was still alive in the early 90s, and left a message on Ruth's grave, "I will always Love You. The Bee Charmer."
- In the Fried Green Tomatoes Idgie Threadgood was played by Mary Stuart Masterson.
- One of the main differences between the novel and the movie was that the novel explicitly stated that the two women shared a sexual relationship, while the movie left it much more ambiguous. The film's director later acknowledged that the food fight scene could be seen as a type of symbolic love making. The move to make the relationship between Idgie and Ruth ambigious was controversial in that it seemed to be glossing over their relationship.
- It was implied in the film that Virginia "Ninny" and Idgie Threadgoode were one and the same persons.