“Do you think I will grow up to be a Freak?”: Tomboys and Sissies in McCullers and Capote’s Southern Gothics
Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
This project explores the figures of the tomboy and the sissy through three novels in the Southern Gothic genre published by American authors during the 1940s: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940) and The Member of the Wedding (1946), both written by Carson McCullers, and Other Voices, Other Rooms, Truman Capote’s 1948 debut novel. In the introduction, I briefly review the development and definition of the Southern Gothic and its intersection with queer theory, and discuss Kathryn Bond Stockton’s theory of the “ghostly gay child” in the context of the Gothic. In the first and second chapters, I explore recurrent themes in the figures of the tomboy and sissy, including self-image, violence, and fear of the future. In the third chapter, I analyze the effects of tomboy/sissy relationships, as well as relationships with marginalized adults, on the development of possible futures for queer children, through the metaphor of the “wavy chamber mirror” as described in Other Voices, Other Rooms. My project ultimately argues for the importance of these novels to the understanding of the Southern Gothic, particularly the concept of freakishness in the Southern Gothic, as well as the importance of the Southern Gothic to the development of queer childhood in literature.
House, Eva, "“Do you think I will grow up to be a Freak?”: Tomboys and Sissies in McCullers and Capote’s Southern Gothics" (2023). Honors Theses. 600.
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