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The Member Of The Sad Cafe: Analyzing Mc Cullers Masculine Female Characters

1080 words - 5 pages

Out of the pantheon of Modern Southern Literature authors, Carson McCullers is arguably one of the best writers to emerge out of the genre in the twentieth century. With her intricate weaving of character development, she creates personas that strike the reader memorably and come alive with the power of their own natures. Two such characters emerge from her famous short stories: Frankie Addams from The Member of the Wedding and Miss Amelia Evans from The Ballad of the Sad Cafe. These characters are unique as they both struggle to fit in with society’s ideal of women in the South, and are isolated from the ‘normal’ life of a Southern woman. Both Frankie and Miss Amelia confront gender issues as untraditional women who attempt to take on male roles in their communities, where straying from the ‘status quo’ is seen as untrustworthy and threateningly different; these issues eventually detach them from traditional Southern society. Because Frankie and Miss Amelia are not content with the traditional roles of Southern womanhood, their actions cause strife in their behavior, their controlling mindsets and in their families.
The behavior of both Frankie and Miss Amelia is generally perceived as odd throughout each of their stories. Frankie has an extremely difficult time connecting with other girls her age around her, girls that were once her confidants but ‘now they had this club and she was not a member...they had said she was too young and mean’ (McCullers 265). As a result Frankie resorts to spending her free time with her cousin half her age. She also struggles with sleeping by herself at night, and until the beginning of the novel had previously slept in a bed with her father for comfort like a child. During her sleepovers with her cousin she feels that ‘with somebody sleeping in the dark with her, she was not so much afraid’ (McCullers 268), thought what precisely she fears, whether it is her brother’s impending wedding or the change from a child to a teenager, she never addresses. Miss Amelia deals with such a separation as well, though it is halfway self induced. After the death of her father made her rich, she lived alone, although ‘many would have courted her, but Miss Amelia cared nothing for the love of men’ (McCullers 198) and prefers to live a solitary life. This isolates her from both women and men in her small southern community, making her somewhat of an enigma. She also ‘would involve herself in long and bitter litigation over just a trifle’ (McCullers 199), the fruition of her hot-tempered manner and love of lawsuits. This combative nature deals her a harsh blow after her ex-husband returns in a blaze of glory and death to the little town to exact his revenge on Amelia. Together the behavior of these two women essentially isolate them from the world around them, creating distress from within that spreads throughout the community.
Also, both Frankie and Miss Amelia have very domineering personalities that result in highly...

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