"I live with the people I create and it has always made my essential loneliness less keen."
- Carson McCullers
Carson McCullers is the author of several critically acclaimed novels including The Member of the Wedding and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Her novella, Ballad of the Sad Cafe, is considered by many to be her masterpiece. Carson's work is often compared with that of Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Connor.
The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, with its nameless narrator, is the story of Amelia Evans, owner of a cafe in the small Southern town close to Cheechaw, Georgia. Amelia Evans, a loner and the richest person for miles around, is in love with Lymon, a hunchback. Her ex-husband, Marvin Macy, returns from prison and starts a relationship with Lymon. McCullers' grotesquely eccentric characters make this a story worth reading and analyzing. It has been made into a movie (available in the library) and was adapted for the stage by Edward Albee. McCullers writing career was short, but her place in American Southern Gothic literature is assured.
Librarian talk . . . About Getting Started!
As you begin, decide on your topic and write a draft of your thesis statement. This will help keep you on track as you discover research materials. Consider keywords that will help you find the information you need. These can be names of people (author, characters as subjects), themes, literary works (Sad Cafe as a subject,) genres (Southern Gothic,) or broader identifying terms (Southern Writers.) Use keywords for locating information in the library catalog, electronic databases, and on the Internet.
Amelia Evans - tall, powerful, independent, shrewd, industrious, capable, loner, owner of the Sad Cafe.
Cousin Lymon - a dwarf and hunchback, claims to be a cousin, sociable, enjoys entertaining the townsfolk with tall tales.
Marvin Macy - outlaw, ex-husband of Miss Amelia, returns to town when he is out of prison. And returns from town to prison.
Loneliness | The Power of Love | Compassion in the narration | Character study | Psychological phenomenon that causes human beings who are worshiped to despise the worshiper | Mystical qualities connecting story to the Southern Gothic period | Sad Cafe as folklore. | Use of music to substitute for words and powerful feelings. | The Chain Gang.
|Librarian Talk . . . About Books!
Many books are available both online and in the library. So much has been written about this novel, books will be one of your best resources. Search multiple times, using different keywords.
Apply in the library or online for a library card. Use your card to:
PN 41 .D5 - Dictionary of Literary Biography - Volumes 2 and 173 include information on Carson McCullers' life.
PN 771 .C59 - Contemporary Literary Criticism, - Vols. 12 and 100 include excerpts on The Ballad of the Sad Cafe. Use the Title Index to find specific pages on The Ballad of the Sad Cafe . This is a good place to begin focusing on a topic for a paper.
PN 3335 .S5 - Short Story Criticism - Vol. 24 contains a long section on The Ballad of the Sad Cafe. Vol. 9 has some information. These are also excerpts of longer articles and a good place to begin thinking of a topic.
PS 221 .T834 - Twentieth Century American Literature - Vol. 4 includes information on Carson McCullers and her major themes and work.
PS3525 .A1772 Z76 | Carson McCullers | by Margaret B. McDowell
PS3525 .A1772 B3533 | Carson McCullers' The Ballad of the Sad Cafe | edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom (also available in Bloom's Literary Reference Online.)
PS3525 .A1772 Z594 | Critical Essays on Carson McCullers | edited by Beverly Lyon Clark and Melvin J. Friedman. (at North Harris)
PS255 .N5T57 | February House | by Sherill Tippins
PS3525 .A1772 Z84 | The Flowering Dream: The Historical Saga of Carson McCullers | by Nance Bailey Rich
PS3525 .A1772 Z74 | Illumination and Night Glare: The Unfinished Autobiography of Carson McCullers | by Carson McCullers
PS3525 .A1772 Z582 | Understanding Carson McCullers | by Virginia Spencer Carr.
PS374 .G68 G83 | Gothic America : Narrative, History, and Nation | See several chapters, particularly "Southern States in Literature," for background about genre.
Twentieth-Century Southern Literature | by J.A. Bryant (e-book)
Search the ebook Collection from EBSCO. You will find online books about the author and the novella. E-books can be very satisfying, since they are searchable. Find the books, look inside the table of contents and search using your keywords.
Librarian Talk . . . About Finding Journal and Newspaper Articles!
To find articles in newspapers and journals, letters, reference books, illustrations, photographs and more, use your library card to login to the following databases. If you find an interesting article that is not full-text, please give the correct bibliographic information to our Reference Librarians and they will see that you get the article. They will need full bibliographic information - and your name and address. Send your phone number as well, so they can contact you if they need to. There is some overlap of articles in the following databases. However, we encourage you to use more than one. All are excellent sources for this topic. [Get a card]
|Librarian Talk about the Internet!
The internet can be a wonderful source of information, including original documents. In this case, you will find background biographical information, but not much that will be appropriate for a college research paper. Check with your instructor before using any internet site as a source for your paper. Browse the sites suggested below. Remember, you do want to find reputable sites. Evaluate by:
The Carson McCullers Project - This site has a great list of links to McCullers' works and a bibliography of critical writings.
Google Scholar Search Results - the use of Google Scholar will eliminate many of the useless pages for the research paper. Critical articles are available.
Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians - Biographical information. Visit the Center's home page for more southern writers.
The Ballad of Carson McCullers - Biographical information, images,
Librarian Talk about getting help!
Support for a successful paper is more than finding the right resources. Putting it all together takes time and effort. Sometimes it takes additional help from the librarians or tutors. Please consider the following resources if you need additional help. Remember, the expert on the assignment is your professor; use the eCollege VISTA in-class email to contact her.
If you need help putting your paper together, these links will lead you to tutors and librarians who can offer assistance.
MLA Style Guide | Lone Star College-Kingwood Library guide. Examples of both paper and electronic citations.
Avoiding Plagiarism | Excellent information and guide on how to avoid plagiarism from the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University.
University of Texas Copyright Crash Course | This helpful guide on copyright is suggested by LSC-Kingwood Teaching and Learning Center.
Learning Center | Check hours for tutoring.
Page by Peggy Whitley, 1/08, updated 8/2012 sg