Date of Award
University Scholars Director
Dr. Jeff Keuss
Dr. Susan VanZanten
Dr. Mark Walhout
southern literature, twentieth century literature, southern gothic, carson mccullers, isolation
A southern novelist of the mid twentieth century, Carson McCullers is often labeled as a Southern Gothic author, and her novels reflect the violence, grotesque characters, and dilapidated settings of the genre. However, while early interpretations of her work focused on the depravity of doomed characters, more recent analysis has opened up her work to a productive understanding of social change. Her characters are isolated from the rest of society, whether by race, religion, or sexuality, but rather than highlighting their own shortcomings, these isolating factors underscore a limitation within the social structures and the need for change. This essay examines McCullers' three novels that have received the widest critical attention: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Reflections in a Golden Eye, and The Member of the Wedding. The themes of race, sexuality, economics, gender, and religion are explored for the moments in which characters overcome their isolation, and through their interactions with one another, a positive change can be glimpsed. This examination attempts to bring McCullers work into a broader social relevance.
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Hutchinson, Adam, "Isolation of the Individual in the Novels of Carson McCullers" (2015). Honors Projects. 35.