Study Guide

Ballad of the Sad Cafe and Other Stories Tough-o-Meter

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Base Camp: 4

Let's take a nice Southern sit-down on the front porch of the titular café, and give ourselves plenty of time to meditate on these straight-forward-seeming yarns.

Carson McCullers has a great talent for setting out strange turns of events with a folksy tang, and reading her work without stopping to breathe will only give you half the story. She's a master of both suspense and unspoken emotions, and we get the feeling that her characters have much larger lives that what ends up on the page.

So let's make like the novella's mill-workers and work hard until the day is done, understanding that this intelligent author means a lot more than she says.

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