Ballad of the Sad Café

Quick Reference

Novella by Carson McCullers, title piece of a book published in 1951. It was dramatized by Edward Albee in 1963.

In a small Georgia town the hardest working and best business person is Miss Amelia Evans, at 30 a tall, strong woman, able to outfight any man, and the owner of a store and a still that produces the best whiskey in the area. She had been married, for ten days only, to Marvin Macy, the town's toughest criminal, who doted on her. When she refused to sleep with him and threw him out of her house he went on a rampage of crime that led to his imprisonment. While he was in prison Miss Amelia was attracted by a distant relative, Cousin Lymon Willis, a dwarfish hunchback, whom she befriended and under whose spell she opened her store at night as the town's cafe. But after Marvin Macy is released and returns to the town, Cousin Lymon becomes fascinated by him, and it is clear that Miss Amelia will have to fight physically with her one time husband for leadership and for Lymon too. Soon a wrestling match does occur. Amelia is about to win when Lymon jumps on her back and she is downed in defeat. Marvin and Lymon vandalize the store, destroy the still, and leave town, also leaving Miss Amelia a physically and psychologically broken woman, huddling in her closed café.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Carson McCullers (1917—1967) American writer