truman capote and the southern gothic short story

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truman capote’s miss bobbit:

 

Capote’s "Children on Their Birthdays," which begins with the great line "Yesterday afternoon the six o’clock bus ran over Miss Bobbit."

 

“Miss Bobbit" is a sophisticated and eccentric ten-year-old girl who, with her mother, has just moved to a very small town in Alabama. Two boys who were best friends both become infatuated with Miss Bobbit, and wind up enemies. As one of the boys puts it:

 

She was the queer things in him, like the pecan tree and liking books and caring enough about people to let them hurt [you]. She was the things he was afraid to show anyone else.

 

As for Miss Bobbit herself…

 

The odors of a church are so offensive,” she said, leaning forward and with her hands folded primly before her. “I don’t want you to think I’m a heathen, Mr. C.; I’ve had enough experience to know that there is a God and that there is a Devil. But the way to tame the Devil is not to go down there to church and listen to what a sinful mean fool he is. No, love the Devil like you do Jesus: because he is a powerful man, and will do you a good turn if he knows you trust him. He has frequently done me good turns, like at dancing school in Memphis . . . I always called in the Devil to help me get the biggest part in our annual show. That is common sense; you see, I knew Jesus wouldn’t have any truck with dancing. Now, as a matter of fact, I have called in the Devil just recently. He is the only one who can help me get out of this town. Not that I live here, not exactly. I think always about  somewhere else, somewhere else where everything is dancing, like people dancing in the streets, and everything is pretty, like children on their birthdays. My precious papa said I live in the sky, but if  he’d lived more in the sky he’d be rich like he wanted to be.

 

—from Truman Capote, “Children on Their Birthdays”

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