The Character of Lymon in “The Ballad of the Sad Cafe”

May 24, 2022 by Essay Writer

One character in the love triangle described in the novella “The Ballad of the Sad Café,” by Carson McCullers, is unworthy of love. Miss Amelia, a businesswoman with manly characteristics and little compassion, gains joy and happiness from Lymon at first and comes to trust him. Unfortunately, it gradually becomes clear that Lymon is actually grotesque, selfish and devious. Physically, Lymon is depicted as “a hunchback. He was scarcely more than four feet tall… His crooked legs seemed too thin to carry the weight of his great warped chest and the hump on his shoulders” (6). He is also poor, carrying “a bag full of manners of junk” (8). Between being grotesque and poor, he tried to pull upon Miss Amelia’s heartstrings in order to lure her into her hoax. He may have had an inclination that because she also had unattractive physical qualities, she would be more likely to take him in.Lymon uses Miss Amelia’s love and affection for his own selfish gains. He takes advantage of Miss Amelia’s “lonesome looks of the lover” (23), using it to become the center of activity at the café: “It was the hunchback who was most responsible for the great popularity of the café” (39). Miss Amelia was not socially inclined and would not have made it so popular on her own. Lymon managed to gain her trust, which no one had ever done before, and one may assume it’s because she loved him. He took advantage of her trust by learning the secret to her liquor, taking her money freely, and getting her to purchase a piano for him. Finally, Lymon is a very devious character. This is shown in the first “meeting” between himself and Marvin: “It was not the look of two strangers meeting for the first time and swiftly summing up each other. It was a peculiar state they exchanged between them, like the look of two criminals who recognize each other.”(46) Lymon also flaps his ears in an unusual way, which he had only done for Miss Amelia before – an indication that he had a previous relationship with Marvin Macy. Neither man offers an explanation. Lymon follows Marvin around at a distance, as though afraid, and Marvin seems angry with Lymon, also suggesting that the men have a history. Lymon is not only a character with unappealing physical attributes, he also has a shameful character and is not worthy of anyone’s trust – especially not that of Miss Amelia, who trusts so little to begin with.

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