On Black Humor in The Ballad of the Sad Café毕业论文
1. Introduction 1
2. Demonstration 3
2.1 Black humor reflected by the absurd world 3
2.1.1 Grotesque settings 3
2.1.2 Inexplicable love triangle 4
2.1.3 Leaping time and space 5
2.2 Black humor represented by the anti-heroes 6
2.2.1 Miss Amelia: a masculine woman 6
2.2.2 Cousin Lymon: a foolish clown 7
2.2.3 Marvin Macy: an evil rogue 8
2.3 Black humor manifested by the rhetorical devices 9
2.3.1 Symbolism 9
2.3.2 Parody 10
2.3.3 Repetition 12
3. Conclusion 13
Works Cited 15
On Black Humor in The Ballad of the Sad Café
Carson McCullers (February 19, 1917—September 29, 1967) was an American novelist, playwright, essayist, and poet. Named Lula Carson Smith after her grandmother, McCullers was a daughter of a jeweler in Columbus, Georgia. Although her life was short and she suffered a lot from serious illness, McCullers created a number of quite impressive works. In 1940, McCullers accomplished her first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, which brought her into the New York literary world. Gore Vidal, an American writer and playwright, highly praised her work as “one of the few satisfying achievements of our second-rate culture.” (Carr, 124) After that great success, Carson McCullers created other representatives like Reflections in a Golden Eye, The Member of the Wedding, and The Ballad of the Sad Café, etc.
Love and loneliness, as well as spiritual isolation, are the common themes of Carson McCullers’ works. In The Ballad of the Sad Café, the heroine, Miss Amelia Evans, is a woman with little femininity. She runs a town store and always lives alone except for a ten-day marriage. A hunchback named Lymon who claims to be her cousin steals Miss Amelia’s heart. Miss Amelia and Cousin Lymon transform the store into a café which attracts a lot of attention from the locals. However, when Miss Amelia’s ex-husband Marvin Macy returns from the prison, it turns out to be a love triangle full of violence, hatred, and betrayal. Astonishingly, Cousin Lymon is irresistibly attracted by Marvin Macy and destroys Amelia’s café with Marvin Macy. Unexpectedly, Marvin Macy feels disgusted with Cousin Lymon’s ridiculous behaviors to please him and sells Cousin Lymon to a side-show.
Researchers at the early stage pay much attention to the poetic features of McCullers’ works. As a result, the realistic significance of her works is weakened. The descriptions of the settings and characters are ignored; instead, more general and abstract connotations are imposed on plot and theme. From the perspective of Southern Gothic, American literary theorist Ihab Hassan points out that the morbid characters in her works stem from the South, and Southern people put emphasis on conventions and group value. “While the specifically southern setting of all McCullers’s novels only highlights the power of such discourses, transgression of them is thus even more forcefully enacted by the physical grotesques—the freaks, queers, and androgynes that populate her strange worlds.” (Gleeson-White, 2) Melissa Free analyzes McCullers’ works according to Queer Theory. She believes that the homosexual inclination of the characters as well as the author herself, which is unaccepted by the mainstream, makes them feel more lonely and isolated.
Since the Chinese translator Li Wenjun translated The Ballad of the Sad Café into Chinese in 1979, this novella has largely attracted Chinese people’s attention. Zhao Yiheng’s thesis on The Ballad of the Sad Café, considers that symbolism and irony express the common feeling of loneliness in modern capitalist society. Recently, Chinese researchers pay more attention to Queer Theory, and they consider that only if traditional standard of gender is deconstructed, everyone’s individuality can develop in a truly free way.