Study Guide

Ballad of the Sad Cafe and Other Stories Justice and Judgment

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Justice and Judgment

McCullers doesn't seem to be interested in what's fair and what's not. Her character's sense of justice has more to do with evening the score and going your own way. Meanwhile, rumors travel more quickly than lightning.

Gossip may pass the time, but it isn't serious. What folks believe is always up for debate, and everybody's allowed to change their own mind when more evidence comes through the door. Stronger characters don't care one way or another, while weaker ones worry what the neighbors will think. There's no formal court or jury in these pages. In The Ballad of the Sad Café and the other stories, characters must find justice by going and getting it for themselves.

Questions About Justice and Judgment

  1. When Marvin Macy comes back to make Miss Amelia's life miserable, would you categorize it as "justice" or "revenge"? Both? What's the difference between the two, here?
  2. We hear a lot of town rumors about Miss Amelia, but does it seem like she's well-regarded or simply tolerated for being among these peeps?
  3. Frances seems happy to allow Mister Bilderbach decide whether or not she's a wunderkind. Does this have more to do with their relationship, or her actual playing ability?

Chew on This

The characters that are portrayed as strong in Ballad don't care about what anyone else thinks. They do what they please.

Marvin Macy has already been branded as a criminal, so he'll be a criminal in the eyes of his hometown, no matter what. This allows him a kind of freedom that other, more law-abiding folks don't have.

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