Carson McCullers is regarded as one of the most noteworthy American writers of the twentieth century. She had a challenging life; she was constantly battling illness, a turbulent marriage and alcoholism. The way she lived and felt is reflected in some of her novellas and short stories. In Ballad of a Sad Cafe there is a blend of isolation and the absence of love that consumes three characters: Amelia, Marvin, and Lymon. The novella The Members of the Wedding delves into the life of Frankie Adams an immature 12 year old who battles the trials and tribulations of her upcoming teenage years. McCullers peculiar characters writhe from loneliness and the pursuit of love that is recognized by the reader with deep compassion.
The novella Ballad of a Sad Café exemplifies how love can occasionally be one-sided resulting in pain that stems from adoring someone who doesn’t reciprocate the sentiment. McCullers clearly defines her opinion of love when she states "Love is the joint experience between two persons but the fact it is a joint experience does not mean that it is a similar experience to the two people involved… love is a solitary thing” (McCullers 215). The story begins with an illustration of the town, which in itself is lifeless and bleak. There is little to nothing there aside from a cotton mill, the houses where workers live and a dismal main street. McCullers states “the town is lonesome, sad, and like a place that is far off and estranged from all other places in the world” (McCullers 197). Love is the main theme of the story which is shared by three unconventional characters: Miss Amelia, Cousin Lymon, and Marvin Macy. (McCullers 215). The different characters appear to denote that love and desirability may not be logical or plausible to whom they are pursuing.
Miss Amelia is an independent and opinionated recluse. She is six feet tall, muscular and cross-eyed, but the town accepts her because of the store she owns and moonshine she sells. Everyone is stunned when an attractive criminal, Marvin Macy, becomes infatuated with Amelia. Marvin is a man who transforms his dishonest ways to earn Amelia’s affections in an attempt to marry her. Love blinded Marvin to the point that he acquired a lawyer and signed over everything he owned to Amelia, which was ten acres of “timberland” (McCullers 221). Amelia agrees to Marvin’s proposal even though the feeling isn’t mutual and after ten days she runs him off her property and they divorce. Angered by the lack of respect and devotion from Amelia, Marvin’s criminal activities return with a vengeance and he finds himself going to prison for is wrongdoings. Marvin loved the unemotional and unpleasant Miss Amelia, but before his brief marriage to her Marvin was portrayed as:
“The beloved of many females in the region and there were at the time several young girls who were clean-haired and soft-eyed, with tender sweet little buttocks and charming ways. These gentle young girls he...