Sexless faces, abnormal bodies, and white trash girls: grotesque women in southern Gothic literature
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By exploring and breaking down traditional gender roles through Miss Amelia's androgyny in The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, McCullers shows the ironclad nature of gender binaries and the inconsistency of gender perception in the South. Dorothy Allison, on the other hand, places her autobiographical protagonist Bone in the same disempowered state that Allison herself grew up in, and forces her to fight for power. Comparing the ends of the two novels suggests that by not accepting defeat or internalizing societal norms, it is possible for southern women to relinquish their seemingly grotesque bodies and retain agency over their identities and their lives.