Psychological Conditions of Characters in Carson McCullers' Writing

Essay by xiceymochaxHigh School, 11th gradeA, October 2004

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Emotional, mental and psychological disorders are difficult to diagnose since the symptoms of person can vary depending on their severe-ness and personality. With the same symptoms occurring in so many different disorders nobody, even the patient himself, can be exactly sure what disorder he has. Many characters of Carson McCullers' short stories, "Madame Zilensky and the King of Finland", "The Ballad of the Sad Café", and "Wunderkind" in particular, have some kind of psychological or emotional problem. These problems in a way add to the climatic tension of the stories since some of these characters are unpredictable at times.

Towards the end of the story "Madame Zilensky and the King of Finland" Mr. Brook, the head of the music department realizes the very thing that has always been bothering about his new faculty member Madame Zilensky:

The woman was simply a pathological liar, and that accounted for everything .

. . If she passed the evening bent over a table in the library and later declared that she had spent that time playing cards, it was as though she had manages to do both those things. Through her lies she lived vicariously. (109)

Pathological lying can vary from a little white lie that seems to have no meaning to something very deceiving. All pathological liars share one thing and common though, even if the liar is somebody like Madame Zilensky who has no intent to deceive anybody, and that is "to decorate their own person . . .[by lying] about something they wish to possess or be." (Healy 26) Mr. Brook who diagnosed Madame Zilensky with pathological lying seems to have problems of his own. Cynthia Wu in her Essay "Expanding Southern Whiteness: Reconceptualizing Ethnic Difference in the Short Fiction of Carson McCullers" claims that Mr. Brook cannot...