In Joshua Logan''s film Picnic (1955) a smart and rebellious girl reads, with delight, The Ballad of the Sad Café (1943), but the tenant, a schoolteacher dismisses it as a ''filthy'' and immoral book, which was almost banned from the public library. The fact that McCullers'' text could have been portrayed as a scandal book is related to the way it subverts social expectations on gender and sexuality. Furthermore, it is a graphic example for the way the Gothic as an indirect, cryptic mode is applicable to the demonstration of gender anxiety. If we have a look at the critical reception of the novella, we can extend the examination of a single text to a broader ''case study'' and see the way gender expectations work in society as a normative, regulatory system, and reveal the relativity of the term ''freak''. Examining the relationship of the Gothic, the grotesque and gender, the analysis focuses on the way stereotypes which unify and normalize gender and (hetero)sexuality work in the text (and its readings), and render differences into the realm of the abnormal, even the supernatural.