The Pathetic Lover: Ballad of the Sad Cafe

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The Pathetic "Lover"
The Ballad of the Sad Café, by Carson McCullers (1951) suggests that there are two types of people in the world: the "lover" and the "beloved". The "lover" is a pathetic character so enamored by the "beloved" that it changes his/her attitude or personality completely. The feeling is so powerful that even though it causes the "lover" excruciating pain, he/she continues to love. The two main characters fall under this mysterious spell and it changes their lives forever. McCullers also seems to propose that the feelings of love and attraction are not necessarily reasonable or comprehensible to others, and if left unrequited it can cause the "lover" to revert back to his/her true self.

McCullers says: "love is a joint experience between two persons-but the fact that it is a joint experience does not mean that it is a similar experience to the two people involved. There are the lover and the beloved, but these two come from different countries" (26). The author seems to think that love is never reciprocated between two people. The "lover is enamored by the "beloved", but the "beloved" does not share the same feelings and is somehow annoyed or bothered by the "lover". McCullers also suggests that anyone can be the "beloved" or the object of someone's affection. The physical characteristics, habits, attitude or age do not have an effect on the intensity of the "lover's" feelings. The "beloved" can be "treacherous", "greasy-headed" and "given to evil habits"(26). These characteristics will not change the "lover's" feelings for the "beloved" whatsoever: "Yes, and the lover may see this as clearly as anyone else-but that does not affect the evolution of his love one whit" (26). She also explains that the "beloved" is not a position that most people want to be in. The position of the "beloved" is more a hindrance than an honor. She says, "Almost everyone wants to be the lover. And the curt truth is that in a deep, secret way, the state...
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