Study Guide

Ballad of the Sad Cafe and Other Stories Competition

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What makes a good match? Depends whether you're talking about love or fighting. In The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, the two often go together, and competition and confrontation are a natural outgrowth of one person loving another.

For jilted Marvin Macy, he returns to town for his revenge on his estranged wife Miss Amelia. The fight that results is down and dirty.

Questions About Competition

  1. Is Cousin Lymon rejecting Miss Amelia's love, or proving his love for Marvin Macy, when he jumps on Miss Amelia's back during the fight?
  2. Do you think the fact that both Miss Amelia and Marvin Macy wear red has something to do with their competition and confrontation? Is it a signal to each other, the town, themselves?
  3. Do you think Frances ever was a "wunderkind," really? Or is she just now old enough to realize that she was never anything that special?

Chew on This

The competitions in McCullers's work often have to do with justice: characters are interested in balancing the scales, and righting wrongs.

All of the confrontations that occur in this book occur between people who have been a lover or beloved to one another. McCullers seems to believe that competition is an essential part of love.

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