Understanding the Short Fiction of Carson McCullers uses diverse critical techniques to identify how McCullers's short fiction engages with the modern world and contemporary audiences.
While McCullers's longer work has received significant critical attention, her short fiction has not received the same treatment.
This collection adds to analyses of McCullers's better-known stories as well as considers those that have received little or no critical attention.
McCullers's writing maintains lasting appeal because it captures both the joy and sadness of humanity, especially the meaning we draw from connections with others and the pain of isolation when we find it difficult to cultivate these relationships in modern culture.
While critical assessment of McCullers's work has more often focused on her concern with loneliness and belonging, this collection depicts an author who was deeply invested in the social and political state of the world.
Her short fiction includes interrogations of class-based, racial, and ableist prejudice, disconcerting portrayals of the social and political anxiety surrounding the Second World War, satirical eviscerations of some of the most oppressive social norms of the mid-twentieth century, and bold suggestions that lesbian desire, queer relationships, and female autonomy have a valid place in American culture.
Through her depictions of differently-abled, sexually nonconforming characters, as well as characters of various races and classes, her short fiction redefines notions of belonging in the modern social context.
The chapters within this collection provide new scholarly avenues to McCullers and will compel readers to rethink their own responses to McCullers's shorter works.