McCullers once wrote that “communication is the only access
love”. Many of her characters are loners, but being alone
not eliminate their ability to love, nor their quest for it, often in
the strangest of places. The title story, or novella, is set in a
dreary town, illuminated only by the effects of a strange love
triangle, that transform the local store into a thriving
Marvin Macy is a handsome reprobate and despoiler of teen girls, Miss
Amelia Evans is the wealthy, mannish owner of the property who marries
Macy and lives with him for only ten days before kicking him out. She
later falls for her own cousin Lymon, a hunchback of indeterminate age,
who is charmed into disloyalty by Macy when he returns to the
are six other stories in this collection, in which McCullers often
portrays this type of asymmetry between the one who loves and their
beloved. Love is often mis-directed, as though it were a gaze that had
inadvertently alighted on the wrong object, as in A Domestic Dilemma,
where alcohol becomes the third party in a marriage when a wife turns
to drink for company.
Zilensky and the King of Finland, Mr Brook is
the peculiarities of others, indeed, he rather relished the ridiculous.
Often, when confronted with some grave and incongruous situation, he
would feel a little inside tickle, which stiffened his long, mild face
and sharpened the light in his grey eyes.” If these stories
eyes of their own then they would also definitely light up at any hint
of 'peculiarity' and relish the incongruous and eccentric.
captures that instant when a child encouraged as a prodigy realises
that she cannot achieve her early promise. It does what short stories
can do so wonderfully, describes a turning point. The Sojourner examines
the bond between a man and his
ex-wife's family and how it
affects his relationship with his new partner's son. The Jockey is
perhaps the fiercest and most overt piece of social commentary. But
even the jockey's sense of injustice is fired by affection for another
rider, rather than being an arbitrary, political message. McCullers
often achieves the strongest effect with tiny gestures. A mouthful of
fried potato says all that need be said about the difference in status
between one man and another.
favourite story is the final one in this collection: A Tree, A Rock, A
Cloud. It exemplifies perfectly the struggle of a
character to re-find
love and provides hope for anyone who tries to follow his method with
an optimistic ending of sorts.