Name 1 Student Name Professor Cotton English 1302 7 August 2019 Love: The Tragic Consequences Most people are so giddy over the concept of love that they never really take the time to understand this fragile emotion. It is only in heartbreak that some people realize how they didn’t treat their lovers the way they should have. InThe Ballad of the Sad Café, written by Carson McCullers, readers see a grotesque side of love where no one wins. Love is not a prize to be won, but it is a difficult emotion that must be treated with care to avoid not hurting others. Furthermore, love is closely linked to the emotion of depression as they both have the power to negatively and positively affect each other. A person that loves hard, but does not receive the same in return, can become lonely and depressed. On the other hand, people who are depressed can learn to better cope with it when they are given unconditional love. InThe Ballad of the Sad Café, the theme of love is negatively expressed as all the main characters end up because they didn’t appreciate what love was. The expression of loneliness from the beginning to the end of the novel is the most prominent consequence of the absence of love. Miss Amelia is introduced as a solitary person that cared nothing for love and had lived her life alone (3)1 . Jane Hart suggests that McCullers has an outlandish love for the morbid and that is why true love remains out of reach for the main characters (53)2. Miss Amelia does not appear to enjoy her loneliness because she is withdrawn and isolated from the people of the town. Humans are not solitary creatures and they need love and belonging to function within normal limits. When Cousin Lymon is first introduced into the story, he, too, is a lonely figure. However, Cousin Lymon does not want to live a solitary life as he arrived in the story looking for his kin (4). The last main character, Marvin Macy, is also
Name 2 lonely because he has been isolated from his friends and family to serve a prison sentence.
Loneliness does not do anyone any good as it influences other negative emotions like anger and depression. Miss Amelia is angry when Marvin Macy is released from prison and returns to interrupt her life. Marvin Macy complements her anger by fighting with her, both emotionally and physically, because he does not know what to do with his loneliness. Even Cousin Lymon, who remained a neutral positive character throughout the story, expressed anger because of loneliness when he helped trash Miss Amelia’s place. A person in love doesn’t trash the place of someone that helped them and appeared to bring them joy if they weren’t dealing with resentment and loneliness. If these characters understood the meaning of true love, they would not have been such solitary creatures. There are instances in McCullers novel where the characters were given the opportunity to experience love, but it was short-lived because they didn’t know what to do with it. John Vickery believes that McCullers accounts of love display confusion and conflict over mixed emotions (13)3 . Marvin Macy is the first lover in the story from when he was head over heels for Miss Amelia, and she couldn’t care less. Before he loved Miss Amelia, Marvin Macy was loved by many women, but he shamed them instead of reciprocating their love (17). This shows how Marvin did not care for the love that was after him and he ignored it. He did not care for the tenderness and care that should accompany the emotion of love. As a consequence, the first woman he loved did not give him love back. Miss Amelia treated Marvin the way that he had treated all the women in his past. She didn’t fail to give him love out of revenge or good will for all the other women, she was just too stubborn to get out of her own loneliness. As George Hendrick explains, “everyone wants to be the lover” because they can’t tolerate the demands that come with being the beloved (390)4. The beloved has an obligation to give attention and care to
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Name 3 the lover, but that means compromising part of one’s self. To return love, the beloved has to give up their solitary life and allow a deep connection to another human being. Although this seems like a logical response and basic human nature, it is too difficult of a task for Miss Amelia, Marvin Macy, and Cousin Lymon. The beloved simply represents a stimulus of the stored love within the lover that was dying to get out (15). By being lovers, they can control the situation and decide when they choose to show love and in which way. The beloved is at the mercy of the lover and this lack of control of one’s persistent solidarity is too much of a burden. When it was time for Miss Amelia to be the lover, she was doting and attentive to the needs of Cousin Lymon. She completely changed her lifestyle from being solitary to a lively café owner. Miss Amelia bought even Cousin Lymon a car and stayed with him at night when he could not sleep (22). While it initially seemed that Cousin Lymon would finally break the chain of the absent beloved and reciprocate love, he did the opposite. Cousin Lymon began a relationship with Marvin Macy upon his release from prison. He gave more loyalty to Marcin than Miss Amelia by helping Marvin trash the café towards the end of the novel. These characters didn’t want to be loved because they were too comfortable with being lonely. It is important to note that the absence of love and the presence of loneliness are common casualties that arose out of conflict. InThe Ballad of the Sad Café, each character had free will to choose to love their lover. However, none of them took the opportunity to do so because they had faced too much sadness and loneliness. Miss Amelia’s father and only relative died and left her alone. Cousin Lymon’s mother died and left him alone. Marvin Macy’s first love, Miss Amelia, rejected him and left him alone. Because each character did not take the time to understand the emotions surrounding the loneliness, the couldn’t reciprocate love. As a result, they all ended up alone at the end of the story. Love is a dangerous emotion that needs to be well understood to
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