Publication Date

Spring 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Christopher T. White, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Rosemary Johnsen, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Robin Thompson, M.A.


My aim in this thesis is to explore the commonalities between Carson McCullers, Tennessee Williams and Flannery O’Connor, particularly in terms of three main themes: isolation, the pervasion of American normalcy and gender roles. While each of these authors clearly inserts some autobiographical information into his or her characters, the real commonalities between the fictional characters can be found in their inability to fit into a traditional society; the characters in all three authors’ works are outcasts, pushed to the fringes of their communities or their families because of who they are. Sometimes these characters’ desire to be different is intentional; other times it is not. Each author has succeeded in altering the traditional roles of men and women, and has shown how relationships are often marred by dominant men. They have each maintained a writing style that is inherently Gothic in nature, but they have also altered the traditional genre’s elements just enough so as to create a new sub-genre which would become known as Southern Gothic. This study will ultimately show how McCullers, Williams and O’Connor essentially – and perhaps unintentionally – created something new for American literature which has now become one of the most fascinating and widely-studied genres in the American literary canon.