Amelia Evans, the owner of the sad café, a tall, powerful, independent woman with crossed eyes. A solitary child reared by her widowed father, she inherits the largest store in the tiny town and becomes the richest woman for miles around. With uncommon industry, as a shrewd businesswoman, a self-educated doctor, a determined litigant, a carpenter, a meat packer, and a moonshiner, she turns things to profit. She is ill at ease with most people in town, and they take keen interest in her scandalous relations with Marvin Macy and Cousin Lymon. Shortly after her father’s death, she had married Marvin, only to storm out of the bedroom on their wedding night. Within ten days, she had run him off her premises and acquired title to all of his property. Years later, she falls in love with a diminutive hunchback who appears out of nowhere, claiming to be a distant cousin. Mellowed by this new love, her heart warms to the community as she gradually converts the store to a café. Her café brings the townspeople a new pride, for there they can forget the cheapness of their lives and let her liquor reveal the secrets of their souls that are obscured by drudgery and petty routine. Amelia’s newfound happiness is ruined, however, when Marvin comes back from prison. She is mortified by Lymon’s fondness for him. Her usual resolve dissolves in emotional confusion. She makes no move to curb Lymon, even when he invites Marvin to move in with them. She tries to poison Marvin once, but the plates get switched and her plan is foiled. After losing a fight to Marvin and Lymon, Amelia turns in on...
(The entire section is 658 words.)