Sucker by Carson McCuller
Question One: Characteristics of the Southern Gothic Traditions
- Social Issues in Southern Gothic
Southern Gothic literature revolves around social issues that pertain to Southern society (Flora & Lucinda, 12). This literature emphasized on values likes qualities like honor and integrity while vices betrayal and hypocrisy were criticized. Southern Gothic writers were concerned with the Southern values, which were largely based on based on Christianity. This was controversial because the South perpetrated slavery.
In the readings, the story revolves around social issues of Pete with a schoolmate, Maybelle, and the cousin Sucker. He feels Maybelle betrayed him after all the initiation he undertook to win her.
- Macabre and Grotesque
A major section of the writing is about the South being a defeated society after losing the Civil war. The war itself was a grotesque experience which stuck in the collective memory for long (Walsh 22). No wonder we see elements of that grotesqueness in the work of Southern Gothic (Walsh, 28).
In the story, despite all the measures Pete took to win Maybelle, he fails to win her love. Another instance of defeat is when Pete fails in his three cards and must work extra hard to graduate.
- Violence in Southern Gothic
Violence is depicted in Southern Gothic, which at times is propagated by issues of race (Flora & Lucinda, 41). In these writings, characters are shown to own other human beings who they coerce to work. The slave-owners’ have are depicted to have absolute powers over their slaves including the decision of whether slaves leave of die. Violence is depicted thus a part of mentality, culture, and society of the south.
Violence is depicted in the relationship between Pete and his cousin Sucker. In the earlier paragraphs, he owns Sucker and whatever he tells Sucker to do, even when he is injured doing it. Pete is violent to Sucker even in his communication to the cousin, as he tends to use harsh words.
Question Two: Is Sucker a real breathing person or not
Sucker is arguably a real living-breathing person, since he lives with people, responds to human communication, and furthermore behaves as other humans do. On the contrary, Sucker may not be a real person since he is gullible. Sucker obediently does everything he is told by Pete. As a result, Pete regularly manipulates him and despises him the more for is neediness. Sucker may still be an animal, more so a pet. This is because Sucker rarely verbalizes his response but is quick to take commands. This is common with pets that live in our homes and acquits with our mode of communication. The paper nonetheless maintains that Sucker is a real person.
According to Mc Culler, “All I had to do was just glance once at Sucker and he would get up from whatever he was busy with and maybe half smile and leave without saying a word” (para 2). Only humans and a real person can smile. Thus, Sucker would smile at Pete and leave the room. McCuller goes on to state that “I used to forget that sucker is not my brother. He is my first cousin but practically ever since I remember, he’s been in our family. You see his folks were killed in a wreck when he was a baby. To me and my kid sisters, he was like our brother” (McCuller para 3). This assertion proves that Sucker is a real person. In McCuller, “He used to talk to himself… he’d get into the bathroom and stay as long as an hour. He didn’t mind wearing the sweaters and coats that I outgrew…” (para 7). This allegation depicts further that Sucker is a real living person since he did some of the activities performed by a living being such as bathing, dressing and talking. Richard who was nicknamed Sucker by his first cousin was thus a real living and breathing person concerning the physical aspects and the activities that humans perform on a daily basis. He could talk, smile, bath, dress and above all had a family history.
Just as Richard lived with his relatives, I too lived with my maternal aunty. My condition was, however, different from Sucker’s since my parents had traveled overseas for further studies. During my stay, I felt inadequate due to the absence of my parents in my life. Unknown to me, I became shy and less confident, especially in the presence of my older cousin who was too overbearing for me. My aunt was also too busy with her career to realize the challenges I was undergoing. It is after I found a classmate in similar circumstances did I develop self-confidence and security.
Flora, M. Joseph, & Lucinda, MacKethan, eds. The Companion to Southern Literature: Themes,
Genres, Places, People, Movements, and Motifs. NY: LSU Press. 2001.
McCuller Carson. Sucker. 1963. www.bookrags.com/essay-2003/11/2/172927/14.
Accessed on February 13th, 2017.
Walsh J. Christopher. “Dark Legacy: Gothic Ruptures in Southern Literature.” Critical Insights.
Pages 19- 34.