Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School


First Advisor

Louis Williams


Mrs. McCullers was not a prolific writer; this was largely due to the fact that she was hindered throughout much of her life by serious illnesses. When she was fifteen, doctors misdiagnosed rheumatic fever as "pneumonia with complications.” Her heart was severely damaged by this illness; consequently, she suffered strokes which resulted in blindness in one eye, complete paralysis of her left side, and complications therefrom. Her final stroke in 1967 left her comatose for forty-seven days until her death on September 29, 1967, at age fifty. Her doctors believed that had her early illness been correctly diagnosed, her lifestyle could have been changed and the crippling strokes avoided. Ironically, Mrs. McCullers death is generally attributed to the misdiagnosis, and little mention is made of her smoking between two and three packages of cigarettes daily or of her drinking. For much of her adult life, she often drank all day long. Columbus, Georgia, was Carson McCullers home until 1934, when the author was seventeen. Though she felt she had "'no roots' " in the South, most of her fiction is set in the South. Critical of the Southern settings common to McCullers fiction, Delma Eugene Presley, in "Carson McCullers and the South " said McCullers "could not recover the South in her fiction, because she left it before she really understood it." Presley noted a "deeply embedded ambivalence about the land of her youth" in McCullers fiction. Indeed, Mrs. McCullers did not like the South. In a letter to Vincent Adams, written in the winter of 1938 from Fayetteville, North Carolina, Carson's husband Reeves reported: "'I have to keep Carson tied by a leg to the bedpost at times to keep her from going mad as she hates the South so.” "Reeves exaggeration was accurate. Mrs. McCullers felt frustrated and stagnated by the South, and she feared the repercussions of these feelings. Mrs. McCullers, Presley pointed out, "built her life on the hope that, somehow, Paris or New York would reach down and rescue her." When Mrs. McCullers left Georgia for New York in 1934, she never returned on a permanent basis.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

McCullers, Carson, 1917-1967 -- Criticism and interpretation
Love in literature



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - United State