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The Ballad Of The Sad Cafe
Throughout the novel The Ballad Of The Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers, there is
an evident recurring theme. Ever-present in the story is a feeling of unrequited love,
illustrated through looking at the parallels of the intertwined relationships between three
separate individuals. Miss Amelia Evans, Cousin Lymon Willis, and Marvin Macy, are the
players involved in this grotesque love triangle. The feelings they respectively have for
each other are what drives the story, and are significant enough that the prosperity of
entire town hinges upon them.
First to come of the couplings between these main characters, was the 10 day
marriage of Marvin Macy and Amelia Evans. Previously notorious as a womanizer and
town miscreant, meeting Amelia made Martin wish to be a better man. He cleaned up his
act, and devoted his entire attention to his love for Amelia. Amelia, however, felt no
connection with this man, and sought a relationship only out of economic advantage.
When this finally became clear to Marvin, when he was once and for all removed of the
illusion that his love was returned, it was already too late. Amelia had stripped him of
everything he owned. He took refuge in criminal activity, and was sent to prison. His
love was not returned, and he suffered greatly for it.
Many years down the line, there came into Miss Amelia?s life a man named Lymon
Willis. He was a distant cousin, not to mention a deformed hunchback, yet this did not
stop Amelia from falling for him. Amelia catered to his every need, giving him everything
she could possibly offer him, as Marvin had once done for her. In return for all her efforts,
Lymon was very ungrateful. He didn?t necessarily offer nothing in return, as mere
companionship was of crucial need to Amelia, but he definitely took advantage of her
feelings. Instead of loving her back, instead of being eternally grateful for her treatment of
him, Cousin Lymon chose to betray her. He chose his love for another, over Amelia?s
love for him. Miss Amelia, as with Marvin before her, was left with nothing. Another
victim, fallen pray to love, unrequited.
One might wonder why Lymon had chosen to rebuff Amelia?s love for him. Quite
simply, it is because Lymon, himself, fell for someone. Now maybe not love, in the
conventional sense, yet an extremely deep admiration. Marvin Macy was everything that
Cousin Lymon was not, and yet had always wished to be. Lymon was willing to do
anything to win Marvin?s favor, even ruin the life of someone who cared for him. He did
just that, too, helping to destroy Ameila?s every worldly possession, and her means of
supporting herself. All he did, in the name of, what he thought was, love However,
Marvin felt no more for Lymon, then Amelia had for Marvin, or Lymon had for Amelia.
Lymon was basically used by Marvin in an attempt to get back at Amelia. Although the
story ends before it could happen, its very likely that Lymon came to be hurt severely by
Marvin, once his usefulness had run out.
This story is all just one big vicious cycle of love and hatred. Its almost
inescapable, that a person will inevitably love someone, and not have that feeling returned
with the same force, or to the same extent. This is what happens repeatedly throughout
The Ballad Of The Sad Cafe, and in life, itself. There is a recurring theme of being hurt by
the ones you love, of being denied that which you most desire, and it is that, that is
responsible for driving the story.
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