Study Guide

Ballad of the Sad Cafe and Other Stories Writing Style

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Writing Style

Poetic Campfire Yarns

McCullers likes to combine classic folksiness with dark, sharp description and observation. Her writing feels familiar and really strange all at once:

Now, of course Miss Amelia was a powerful blunderbuss of a person, more than six feet tall—and Cousin Lymon a weakly little hunchback reaching only to her waist. (Ballad.79)

Phrases like "now, of course" feel like intimate storytelling, while fun provocative words and phrases like "blunderbuss" and "weakly little hunchback" gives both emotion and imagery at once. It's a one-two blow that can leave a reader feeling like leaves a reader feeling a little punch drunk.

Choosing The Path Less Traveled

Notice that McCullers uses the less common "weakly" where the more common "weak" might normally be? It's these kinds of instances that can make a reader feel pleasantly off-kilter. Sometimes her sentences just seem to sound "off" and that can help readers invest even more in the fictional universe.

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