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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter Plot Overview

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Plot Overview
The first chapter of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter introduces us to John Singer and Spiros Antonapoulos, two good friends who live together in a town in the Deep South and who are both deaf-mutes. Antonapoulos works in his cousin's fruit store, and Singer works as a silver engraver in a jewelry shop. They spend ten years living together in this way. One day Antonapoulos gets sick, and even after he recovers he is a changed man. He begins stealing and urinating on buildings, and exhibiting other erratic behavior. Finally, Antonapoulos's cousin sends him to a mental asylum, although Singer would rather have Antonapoulos stay with him. After Antonapoulos leaves, Singer moves into a local boarding house in town run by a family named the Kellys.
The narrator then introduces us to Biff Brannon, the proprietor of the New York Café, the establishment in town where Singer now eats all his meals. Biff is lounging on the counter watching a new patron named Jake Blount, as the constantly drunk Jake is intriguing. Blount goes over and sits with Singer and begins talking to him as though the two are good friends. Then Singer leaves. Once Jake realizes in his drunken stupor that Singer has left, he goes into an alley and begins beating his head and fists against a brick wall until he is bruised and bloody. The police bring Jake back to the café, and Singer volunteers to let the drunk stay the night with him.
The narrative shifts to the perspective of Mick Kelly, the young teenage daughter of the couple who own the boarding house where Singer is staying. Mick spends her summer days looking after her two younger brothers, Bubber and Ralph. Mick is passionate about music, and she tries to make a violin out of a ukulele and strings from various different instruments. She is frustrated when her attempt fails.
The narrative switches to Blount's point of view. Jake applies for and lands a job as a mechanic at a local carnival. He tries to tell some workers about his socialist ideas on his way home, but they laugh at him. He soothes himself by going back to John Singer's place, talking to him and drinking.
Then the narrative switches to Dr. Copeland's perspective. Dr. Copeland is a black physician in town. He is angered by a story his daughter, Portia, tells him about a scam artist who took lots of black people's money. He wishes that his children had grown up to be well-educated, successful leaders for the black race rather than accepting the traditional, demeaning, menial jobs that are usually available to blacks in the South at this time. Dr. Copeland remembers a night when John Singer lit a cigarette for him—the first time the Doctor has experienced an act of courtesy from a white man in his entire life.
By the end of Part One, Mick, Biff, Jake, and Dr. Copeland have all begun to visit Singer regularly, all taking comfort in him as a confidant.
At the opening of Part Two, Mick throws a party with kids from school. During the party, she and her neighbor Harry Minowitz take a stroll around the block. Harry, a Jewish boy, tells Mick how much he hates the Nazis. Later that night, Mick, hiding in the bushes outside a house in the rich neighborhood, overhears on the radio a Beethoven symphony for the first time. She is very moved by it.
Biff's wife, Alice, dies after surgery to remove a tumor. Biff is not overly sad about it because he and Alice had fallen out of love. He and his sister-in- law, Lucile Wilson, and Lucile's daughter. Baby, come over to talk to Biff before they go to the funeral. Biff tells Lucile that once he beat up her ex-husband, Leroy, because Leroy had been bragging about how he beat her. The three of them then set off for the funeral.
Dr. Copeland's youngest son, Willie, is convicted of attempted manslaughter after getting in a fight at a strip club. Willie and is sent to prison. Dr. Copeland starts to feel ill, and soon discovers that he has tuberculosis of the lungs. A few days later, Portia invites Dr. Copeland to come to a family reunion at her house, as his estranged older sons Buddy and Hamilton, as well as Grandpapa (his father-in-law) are going to be in town.
Jake Blount tells Singer about his socialist beliefs and about the books by Marx and Veblen he has read. Blount tells Singer how badly he wants to tell all workers about the evils of capitalism, as he wants to stage a revolution that will result in a more equitable division of labor and profit. On his way home, Jake sees a quote from the Bible written on a wall. He writes underneath the quote that he wants to meet the man who wrote it, but the man never shows up.
One day, when Mick is sitting out on the front steps with her brother Bubber, Bubber accidentally shoots Baby Wilson in the head with his friend's BB gun. Baby has to be rushed to the hospital, and the six-year-old Bubber feels so bad about the event that he tries to run away from home. Mick and her family find Bubber wandering along the road, trying to hitch a ride to Atlanta.
Dr. Copeland throws his customary Christmas party at his house. Once the guests are assembled, he delivers a powerful speech about the importance of education for black people. He also tells the guests about Karl Marx, whom he believes was a great writer and thinker. Dr. Copeland feels happy knowing that he is helping his people toward achieving justice, though he later worries that his guests will not remember his words for long.
Singer misses Antonapoulos terribly, and he writes his friend a letter telling him about the four visitors who come to see him all the time. Then Singer takes a few days off from work and goes to the mental hospital to see Antonapoulos, who is now sick with nephritis. Singer gives his friend a moving picture machine for Christmas.
Biff Brannon redecorates his bedroom after Alice's death, and one day he finds some old perfume of hers and begins wearing it. Lucile and Baby come to eat at the café; Baby is still bald from her surgery and more ill-tempered than she was before her accident. Biff realizes that he wishes Mick and Baby could be his own children.
Mick begins to write music in her spare time. Songs come into her head and she writs them down in a notebook she hides beneath her bed in a hatbox. She and Harry Minowitz make plans to kill Hitler. One day during a wrestling match Mick and Harry suddenly feel attracted to one another, but nothing happens.
Dr. Copeland and Portia have note heard from Willie in six weeks. Finally Portia receives word that Willie was punished because one of his friends was rude to a prison guard. Willie was tied up and locked in a cold room for three days; when he was let out, his feet were gangrenous and had to be cut off. Dr. Copeland goes to the courthouse to talk to a white judge that he knows, but a racist sheriff picks a fight with the Doctor, beats him, and throws him in jail.
Mick and Harry Minowitz decide to take a bike trip to a lake to go swimming because the weather has gotten so hot. They end up having sex, and Harry is very upset about it; he is afraid his mother will be able to tell what has happened. Harry tells Mick that he is going to leave town, but that he will write to her once he has found work to make sure she is doing alright.
Jake Blount meets the man who wrote the quote from the Bible on the brick wall; the man's name is Simms, and he preaches on the sidewalks. Simms starts coming to preach at the carnival where Jake works, and Jake occasionally makes fun of him. One day, Jake goes to see Singer, who is just returning from seeing Dr. Copeland. Singer tells Blount the news about Willie's feet. Jake says he would like to try to help Willie, so he and Singer go to Portia's house, where Willie is staying. Jake gets drunker and drunker during the visit, and neither Portia nor Willie wants Jake to get involved in Willie's incident because they think it will just lead to more trouble. Jake accidentally stumbles into the room where Dr. Copeland is lying in bed recovering, and the two men get into a heated debate about Marxism and the best way to take action to change society. Despite their seemingly similar ideologies, the two men get in an argument and Blount storms out.
Mick takes a job at Woolworth's to help support her family, but then wonders if she has made a bad choice, realizing she will likely have to drop out of high school. Mick visits Singer and asks him if he thinks it a good idea to take the job. When he nods in assent, Mick feels reassured.
Singer then sets off to see Antonapoulos once again. He brings many wrapped gifts with him along with a fruit basket and a basket of strawberries. However, when Singer arrives, the orderly tells him that Antonapoulos has died. The shocked Singer wanders about listlessly, returns home on the train, goes to work the next day, and shoots himself in the chest when he gets back to his room in the evening.
In Part Three of the novel, we briefly see snapshots of the four main characters on a day not long after Singer's death. Dr. Copeland is sent to live on Grandpapa's farm—a move the Doctor does not want to make but about which he has no choice, as he is too sick to take care of himself anymore. Dr. Copeland feels that his life purpose—striving to attain justice for the black people—is an unfinished failure.
Jake Blount is angry that Singer has died, as he himself has spent much of the last year confiding in a man who is now dead. Blount tries to find Dr. Copeland to make amends with him after their previous argument, but Portia tells Blount that Dr. Copeland has already left for Grandpapa's. Jake decides to take the next train out of town to try and start anew somewhere else.
Mick Kelly has decided to continue working at Woolworth's. She does not understand why Singer killed himself, but she tries not to let it bother her too much anymore. She reflects that lately she has not had any time or energy to write music, but she nonetheless resolves to start saving for a little piano. Even though nobody forced Mick to take the job at Woolworth's, she feels cheated. However, she still maintains optimism and resolves to pursue her plans.
Biff Brannon keeps on working at the New York Café, pondering the patrons as he always has. At the café late that night, Biff thinks that Singer's death is a riddle that will remain a mystery for a long time. Biff experiences a brief epiphany about the meaning of life, and then prepares himself to greet the approaching day.
Plot
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter Plot Analysis
Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.
Initial Situation
Once Upon a Time
The first chapter of this novel serves as a prologue to our story, introducing us to Singer and setting the stage for when he meets our four main characters. In some ways, this part of the story reads like a fairy tale: once upon a time, there were two best friends…
Conflict
This Town's Got Problems
After the dreamy introduction, we get a series of chapters detailing our main characters: Mick, Biff, Doctor Copeland, and Jake Blount. All four suffer from internal conflicts and all, aside from Jake, have trouble dealing with their family members. Singer, meanwhile, spends his time feeling confused by these weirdos.
Complication
Bad to Worse
Things go from bad to worse when Baby Wilson gets shot (accidentally, but still). Everyone's life just gets more complicated around this time: Mick's family is in turmoil because Bubber was the culprit; Biff suffers over his niece's shooting and his wife's earlier death; Doctor Copeland's son is jailed for a minor crime; Jake struggles with detoxing; and Singer desperately misses Antonapoulos.
Climax
To Each His Own
Since we have a series of stories running in tandem, it makes sense that we get a climax for each character. Mick has sex with Harry Minowitz, Doctor Copeland and Jake get into a heated argument, and Singer finds out that Antonapoulos has died.
Suspense
Questions Abound
The major question is how everyone will deal with their struggles. How will Mick handle her first sexual encounter? How will Copeland and Jake deal with their not-so-accepted passions? How will Biff handle his continually confused emotions? And how will Singer cope with his loneliness?
Denouement
The End
Wait, shouldn't the conclusion, not the denouement be the end? Well, not in this book. There is a real sense of endings in the denouement in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter: Mick's childhood effectively ends when she accepts a full-time job to help her family; Doctor Copeland's illness worsens, and his career is basically over; and of course, Singer commits suicide, which effectively concludes the novel. (Read on to hear about the conclusion, but we think that everything after Singer's suicide is more of an epilogue. Do you agree?)
Conclusion
New Beginnings
The conclusion to this novel is more of a discussion of new beginnings. In the aftermath of Singer's suicide, our main four characters assess their lives and make some big changes: Doctor Copeland leaves town, Jake runs from town after a deadly riot, Mick struggles with her new job and life as an adult, and Biff soldiers on at the diner… for now. What do you think is next for our four musketeers?
Synopsis
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter Summary
How It All Goes Down
When our story begins, two deaf-mutes live in a Southern town and are total BFFs. That is, until one of them moves away to some sort of asylum, due to craziness. This causes some sad times for the one left behind, John Singer. Singer starts wandering the town and quickly becomes a fixture in the community. He draws the notice of four very different individuals: a teenage girl, an African-American doctor, an alcoholic socialist, and a taciturn diner owner.
Over the course of a year, huge changes impact these four people. The teenager loses her virginity and her hope for the future as her family faces dire poverty; the doctor loses his son to wrongful incarceration and loses his own health; the socialist loses his mind (repeatedly) and eventually his job; and the diner owner loses his wife and some of his inhibitions.
Singer becomes an anchor for these four. All are completely convinced that Singer fully understands them, when, in reality, Singer is as isolated and confused by life as they are. In the end, Singer's one friend dies, and Singer himself commits suicide. The four individuals who depended on Singer are left more alone than ever by the novel's end. Yeah, this one is far from an upper.

Sentimental story centers around a deaf-mute, Singer, and Mick, a teenager who lives in the house where he rents a room. Mick and Singer become friends, though they are separated by Singer's lack of communication ability and Mick's struggle with teenage traumas. The lives of the people Singer touches are varied, linked only by their friendship with Singer. His friends include a deaf-mute, a drunk, a and a doctor. Singer does his best to help those around him solve their problems, but who is there to help him solve his own?

Singer is a deaf-mute whose small world brings him in contact with a young girl, Mick, who cherishes a seemingly hopeless dream of becoming a concert pianist. At first hostile, Mick soon becomes friends with Singer, hoping to enlarge his small world. Three other central characters come to Singer for help also, each of them seeing in him a powerful force. Simply because he is a deaf mute, they are able to create their understanding of his being from their own desires.

A deaf mute (Arkin), left alone when his only friend (similarly afflicted) is committed to an asylum, moves to a new town, waiting expectantly. This being the Deep South, assorted misfits soon gather round him: an alcoholic drifter (Keach), a gawkily unhappy teenage girl (Locke), a black doctor with an outsize chip on his shoulder (Rodriguez). All of them pour out their troubles in his silent, sympathetic presence, feeling that their lives are richer for the shared relationship. Yet suddenly, for reasons they know nothing about, the deaf mute commits suicide (he has learned of the death of his friend), and they are left to reflect bitterly on how much they took, how little they gave. The theme is sentimental, of course, but as directed by Miller in a series of oblique, self-contained scenes - with excellent performances all round and superb camerawork from James Wong Howe - the film has much the same haunting, poetic quality as the Carson McCullers novel (her first) on which it is based.

REVIEW
The book is finished. But not the story.

All the pain, all the loneliness – Jake Blount, Doctor Copeland, Mick – and Singer – Carson has tied it all into a tiny little package, so small, almost a seed – and placed it into the reader, where it will now stay, maybe grow … but certainly stay. And perhaps blossom in the reader as it did in the observer Biff, who looked into the abyss. As I have. I move the book from the “currently reading” to the “read” shelf … and place a copy on one other shelf … “existentialism wide”. Of course it’s misplaced there. I suppose. Or is it? It doesn’t matter, that’s where I will look for it. When I see it there I’ll remember the seed. In me. Thank you Carson.

The book is almost unrelentingly bleak. The main characters are all on the edge of despair. There isn't much chance of any of it getting turned around. And, since a happy resolution is not in the cards, most novels would push the characters over the edge in some sort of cataclysm. McCullers doesn't opt for that sort of showiness. Instead, she just further seals off each of her main characters from any possibility of genuine human contact. This resolution is even sadder, but for me it makes for a less compelling novel.

I've read reviews of people complaining that nothing happens in this book. That's not true. There are lots of great incidents: a riot, a young girl accidently shot in the head, a prisoner losing both of his feet to gangrene after being put in the hole during a freeze, etc... But there's no plot. It never feels like any of the incidents drive anywhere else. And the wants of the characters don't lead to any of the incidents. It's almost like there is a complete disconnect.

Similarly, because the characters are so unable to communicate with each other, there is also no possibility for drama. The characters kind of bounce off of each other from time to time, but they never actually interact. And again, I think all of this is exactly according to plan. But, for me at least, this plan doesn't make for an enjoyable work.

And the bleak view of the world does not do much for me now. If I had read this book in my twenties, when i felt much more in tune with alienation for its own sake, I probably would have loved this book. Even now, I might want to switch my review to four stars because I can see that this is very well done for what it is. But it's no longer for me. I read somewhere a long ago that tragedy was for adolescents, and that comedy was for grown-ups. I hate to think of myself as a grown-up, but over time I do seem to have lost some of my taste for this kind of despair

Carson McCullers was only 22/23 when she wrote this; an amazing feat and a truly great novel. The plot centres around John Singer a man who is deaf and mute. Singer initially lives with his friend Spiros Antanopoulos. Their companionship comes to an end when Spiros's mental health deteriorates and he is admitted to an asylum. Singer then takes a room in the Kelly hpusehold. Here a group of people gravitate around him.
Mick Kelly, the daughter of the household has musical aspirations and feels out of place as she grows up. Biff Brannon, the owner of the local bar/diner who has recently lost his wife. Benedict Copeland, an African American doctor who has great hopes and ideals. Finally Jake Blount, a radical and labour agitator who is also an alcoholic.
They all gravitiate towards Singer and his room; each with their own different angsts and stories. Singer is like a mirror who reflects their concerns. He is attentive and can read lips. He writes down what he wishes to say. They all believe him to be taking in their concerns and feel better for talking to him. The fortunes of most of them are in a downward spiral (this is the depression). Copeland is ill and has family problems; he is also increasingly affected by the oppression and racism he experiences and sees around him. Mick Kelly is watching her family descend into poverty following a shocking occurence. Blount is being overtaken by his drinking and is frustrated by the society he lives in.
Events spiral towards a tragedy that is unexpected.
Isolation and loneliness run throughout as a theme in the novel, as does the ache ofunachieved hope and ambition. Things do not always work out for the good and endings are seldom happy; people take more than they give and don't see what is in front of them.
Singer reminded me of the religious symbol of the animal (goat) onto which all the sins of the community are placed and is then sent out into the wilderness carrying the sin with it. He is a holy, almost religious figure for the other characters. Singer is treated by the others as a tabula rasa, but a knowing one who agrees with them.
The writing is simple and poetic and the whole thing will tear your heart out. Oppression and injustice have bee with us for so long and continue to be with us. This book is a poignant reminder that they happen to real people with real hopes and dreams. It is also a reminder that the person opposite you has their own feelings and aspirations too. The title is perfect and poetic

A novel of misfits and dreamers: the drunk with his impressive rage; a doctor with a strangled voice & failing lungs; a gangly girl chasing a fragment of a song to hunt the full Symphony and the proprietor of The New York Cafe, his compassion for the crippled and his deep desire to understand the heart of his patrons.

At the centre of the tale is the deaf mute John Singer. The four misfits visit Singer and communicate their dreams, desires & woes. They are certain that Singer, in his silence, understands everything.

Singer has his own revered sounding post, the dreamy & troublesome greek Antonapoulos. When his friend is admitted to an out of town asylum, Singer's life is forever changed. The hands he used so frenetically to communicate his heart to the Greek were rendered useless in his absence. He took long walks at night and all he met mistook his heartache for wisdom. Carson could be pointing out the foolishness of idolatry. Ironically, the people that visit Singer for solace & understanding only confuse him with their need. To Antonapoulos he writes:

"You remember the four people I told you about when I was there... They are all very busy people. In fact they are so busy that it will be hard for you to picture them. I do not mean that they work at their jobs all day and night but that they have much business in their minds always that does not let them rest...the New York Café owner is different. He watches. The others all have something they hate. And they all have something they love more than eating or sleeping or wine or friendly company. That is why they are always so busy."

This is a beautiful and tragic tale. The prose is eloquent and deceptively simple.

I read somewhere that the character (& my favourite) Mick Kelly is semi-autobiographical. My own deep love of music is what draws me to this character, and these lines in particular:

'Then the music started. Mick raised her head and her fist went up to her throat. How did it come? Like a walk or a march. Like God strutting in the night. The outside of her was suddenly froze and only that first part of the music was hot inside her heart. It didn't have anything to do with God. This was her, Mick Kelly, walking in the day-time and by herself at night. In the hot sun and in the dark with all the plans and feelings. This music was her - the real plain her. She could not listen hard enough to hear it all'.

'But maybe the last part of the symphony was the music she loved best - glad and like the greatest people in the world running and springing up in a hard, free way. Wonderful music like this was the worst hurt there could be. The whole world was this symphony, and there was not enough of her to listen'. Pg 107.

The difference between my first reading, and this one: a deeper understanding of the characters. There is more pain here then I first registered. It is my favourite of McCullers few novels, not as perfect as the short story The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, but pretty close

Reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is never boring. It has a slow soothing rhythm, which enabled me to read it continuously. Though the topics are about small town life, or the everyday small stuff (she incorporates such stuff as kicking an orange peel in a sidewalk in a sentence, or folding and unfolding one's shirtsleeves), they manage to fit in with the rhythm, and kind of forced me to read this in a slowly-but-surely pace, which I didn't mind at all. It was like watching gentle waves crash to the shore: fascinating in a quiet way, and relaxing.

"...In a swift radiance of illumination he saw a glimpse of human struggle and of valor. Of the endless fluid passage of humanity through endless time. And of those who labor and of those who - one word - love."

Human struggle. I am in awe at how McCullers can understand this and articulate it. She gives voice to the rejected and the forgotten, the mistreated and the oppressed. There is Copeland, a proud black doctor who longs for justice and equality rights for blacks; Blount, a seemingly crazed drunkard who wants to fight for the poor, because he sees how unfair it is between the capitalists and their laborers. They both admire Karl Marx's ideology, and although Communism has a sort of bad image, we must never forget his ideal for a utopia, for equality.

"...Our country was founded on what should have been a great, true principle - the freedom, equality, and rights of each individual. Huh! And what has come of that start? There are corporations worth billions of dollars - and hundreds of thousands of people who don't get to eat."

Blount hit the nail in the head on that one. I'm not American, but I can say that this situation could very well describe the situation in my country. And why can't we follow Blount's ideals? It kind of makes me angry as well, but I can't get carried away.

Then there's Mick, whom I can greatly relate to. I may not have the same music in me, but I do have dreams, and sometimes, the immediate problem at hand prevents one from pursuing one's dreams. Mick's life could mirror any one's life. And may I say to Mick: hang on there, girl, you can do it!

And how can I miss John Singer, the deaf-mute as the focal point of the characters, and the story.

“Owing to the fact he was a mute they were able to give him all the qualities they wanted him to have.”

And because of this, the characters had come alive. They finally had someone who understood them, whether it was true or not, and it enabled their stories to move forward. (view spoiler)

The ending...I need to believe in these characters' happy endings. And it's not hard, the way McCullers wrote the ending. She utilized Biff Brannon as the character who can speak both for the characters in the story, and the reader. Unlike the characters who molded Singer into the image they want him to be, Biff Brannon was the one who kept his objectivity. And so it isn't surprising that it is Brannon we read in the last pages.

"He was suspended between radiance and darkness. Between irony and faith...How could a terror throttle him like this when he didn't even know what caused it? And would he stand there like a jittery ninny or would he pull himself together and be reasonable?...Somehow he remembered that the awning has not been raised. As he went to the door his walk gained steadiness. And when at last he was inside again he composed himself soberly to await the morning sun."

This book almost made me give up on humanity. There's still injustice and corruption. The characters in this story haven't fulfilled their ideals and dreams. In fact, McCullers sent them on a detour. But at least she gave us hope. That's the powerful thing. How can I ask more than that?
This book made me weep when I first read it as a teenager. The sadness of the characters was so overwhelming. But I loved the writing, and the book stayed with me. When I read it again a few years ago, it still packed an emotional punch. And somehow, for all the sadness in the book, I don't find it in the least bit depressing. Maybe it's the ability of McCullers's writing to remind the reader of the redemptive power of storytelling.

I remember seeing this book on a bargain bookstore (Booksale) and buying it because the title sounds familiar. It was only when I read the blurb and reviews on Goodreads that I learned that this is a sad book (all along, I thought it was a tragic love story of some sorts). Not a big fan of sad books, I put reading on hold but since it had been staring at me from my bedside stack of books, I decided to put an end to its misery (haha!) and cracked it open.

I approached the book with apprehension, not wanting to cry at the first chapter (because it's supposed to be a sad book, right?). It started with a typical beginning for storytelling:

"In the town there were two mutes, and they were always together." (p.1)

Several pages in and I was sucked into the story. There were times that I got distracted by some other more interesting books, especially the ones I joined for a scheduled read-along, but I still somehow found the time to go back again and continue reading. Aside from the two mutes mentioned, there are also other characters whose lives are intertwined with each other and how, despite being in the company of other humans, still long for that contentment and satisfaction that seem to elude them.

Among the other major characters -- the brooding bar owner Jake Blount, the talkative alcoholic Biff Brannon, and the idealistic Dr. Copeland -- I am more drawn to the characters of Mister Singer and Mick Kelly:

Mister Singer. His loyalty to his Antonapoulos is worth coveting. Despite being the person to whom other characters are inexplicably drawn to speak their minds, which is an irony because Singer can neither speak nor hear, he still longs for the company of his Greek, deaf-mute friend.

Mick Kelly. This girl's passion for music is so intense and her deep longing for music makes me want to go and buy her a piano and radio and give her music lessons (if only I have the money and I am a music expert).

The warnings of the reviews that The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter is sad are accurate. In fact, the title itself suggests that a kind of melancholy will be expected, only that its brand of sadness it did not make me teary-eyed. Instead, it made me heave a deep and heavy sigh for the characters. The build-up is slow, elaborately setting the stage first on which each of the characters unhurriedly tries to connect themselves to me, before surprising me with a twist of events that would shake me and frustrate me.

Each of us is made for relationships, be it romantic or platonic. It has been said that "No man is an island" and this novel perfectly illustrates just that. Loneliness is a common feeling that plagues the characters in this story and even though each of them is surrounded by other people and relations, they still feel lonely. What could be the cause of such loneliness? Is it their own futile struggle to matter and change their circumstance? Is it their longing for that one person to truly understand their deepest thoughts?

Or is it the frustration that no matter how hard they try, they will always be left to alone to live their own pathetic lives?

I would have given this a much higher rating if only I can effectively place my self within the context of the story which is the time of the Great Depression in America, especially in the South -- a time of extreme poverty where jobs are scarce and racial discrimination is popular. So, the problem is not about the book but about me. After all, this author has been highly acclaimed and the book has been considered as a "literary sensation" for its radical exploration of the human condition. Maybe I am not just the kind who likes to wallow in loneliness and sadness -- except when bloody hormones kick in from time to time.

My Summary:
Despair--Dreams of hope--No justice--Things never change.

Explanation of my summary:

The story takes place in the American South among the poor underclass in the late 1930s. The social, economic and racial realities of this setting are oppressive to any human hope for a better life. I summarize this condition as, “Despair.”

Many of the book’s characters have a dream of how life could be improved. The young teenager, Mick, longs to be a musician. The aging black doctor, Dr. Copeland, speaks endlessly of ways to improve life of “his people.” The heavy-drinking, Jake, rants about socialism’s promise to correct the injustices of capitalism. Proprietor of a central eating spot and bar in town, named Biff, is a quiet observer of life. All of these characters expound on their dreams of hope by visiting the town’s deaf-mute, Mr. Singer, who is a good listener and won’t interrupt them while they’re talking. In their minds they have made Mr. Singer the ultimate wise listener so their talking to him is a sort of symbolic praying to God. I summarize this aspect of the book as “Dreams of hope.”

Ironically, the deaf-mute to whom they have been speaking doesn’t really understand why they are talking to him. He has his own compulsion to send letters and occasionally visit his deaf-mute friend in an insane asylum. In the end, all the expressions of hope of these characters are in vain. The deaf-mute's friend dies, Mr. Singer commits suicide, and teenager Mick quits school so she can help her poverty stricken family by working. Dr. Copeland is beat-up by police for his protesting the maiming his son by prison guards. Alcoholic Jake leaves town town to avoid possible charges of instigating a riot of which he is innocent. This I call, “No justice.”

By the end of the book it is clear to the reader that nothing will change (i.e. "Things never change"). The only possible ray of hope is Mick because of her youth. Maybe something will change for her in the future. At the end of the book café owner Biff surmises what he has witnessed as follows:
“For in a swift radiance of illumination he saw a glimpse of human struggle and of valor. Of the endless fluid passage of humanity through endless time. And of those who labor and of those who—one word—love. His soul expanded. But for a moment only. For in him he felt a warning, a shaft of terror... he was suspended between radiance and darkness. Between bitter irony and faith."
Despite the bit of optimism in the above quotation, I was left depressed by the book. I recognize the book as good literature, and given the era in which it was written (published 1940) it was ahead of its time by naming the injustices of economic, cultural and racial inequalities in the American South. This book has captured the essence of being human in a imperfect world while persevering with the task at hand. But I experienced the book much the same as taking bitter medicine. That explains why I gave it two stars.

Below is a review from PageADay Book Lover's Calendar for March 5, 2013:
Maybe you were assigned this magnificent novel in school, so it’s been a long time since you’ve read it—or maybe you never read it at all. In either case, it’s time to (re)embrace its wonders. Set in Depression-era Georgia, the story revolves around two protagonists: John Singer, a deaf mute isolated by his silence, and Mick Kelly, a young girl who searches for beauty through music. The miracle of the novel is its breathtaking insight into the human condition.
THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER , by Carson McCullers (1940; Mariner, 2004)
This book was full of surprises and I'm not sure that they were good surprises. The melancholy of the characters were so fully developed and alluring, that the writing drew me in. A small town, a few different people who are all linked to each other by one guy who can't talk. Everyone has some secret or some sadness that follows them, and you learn about this by living in their heads. This is how much of the book goes--you live in the innermost thoughts of the characters. Then about 70% through, things happen, but not the things you expect. Maybe that was my problem with the book. The things that happen seem to have nothing to do with anything, like all of the setup of the plot didn't match the actions. A little girl gets hurt and what then? There were some loose ends I think. It was setup to look like some event would occur to link the characters (and maybe what happened to Singer did) but in the end, it seemed to be about the mundane affairs of people who live in a small town.
I will say, that how McCullers dealt with race relations was astounding (like I said, her characters were well developed):
Reading this book is like diving into the sea of emotions so deep and dark. Soaking you in every side. You try to see hard in every direction to find a single soul to cling to but you notice you're all alone. But you will not drown. You'll suffer from this loneliness until you find a way to end your life.

Downright depressing. This sure will shake people's dry minds to know things about humanity's urge to fill the emptiness inside each one of us. And how those who knowgreat deal about the world end up isolated and depressed and lonely hunters.

This is one of the known classics and I won't try to point out literary criticisms for this book. It has been surely done so many times and my efforts won't even count.
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers is a book about the search for truth, justice, and oneself in America. Set so you get several characters perspective, all the characters tie to a deaf/mute named Mr. Singer. Mr. Singer used to keep to only his friend until he was sent away to an asylum. After that Mr. Singer is spotted all over town. Everybody creates him to be who they want him to be. Among those include Mick Kelly, Dr. Copeland, and Biff Brannon. Mick Kelly is a tomboy who slowly moves into a more lady-like stage. She obsesses over Mr. Singer and watches him a lot. Dr. Copeland is a black doctor who often thinks about how unjustly blacks are treated. Biff lost his wife and seems to find a strange attraction to Mick. All these people and a few others talk to Mr. Singer and think he is very wise. While each goes their own path, the end will have you reeling.
I'm not going to lie, it was a strange book. I not sure what the message here was, but it was really sad in the end. The amazing thing is McCullers was like in her early twenties when she wrote it. Even more amazing the book manages to have the climax near the end sort of and still be able to wrap it all up. It was really depressing, and by the end I knew why it was called a heart is a lonely hunter, because it is.
Hoy hoy, Buloy Naaalala mo pa ba Nun' tayo'y nagsasama? Hoy hoy, Buloy Naaalala mo pa ba Ang iyong mga sinabi nung ako'y may problema? Sabi mo, "lahat ng problema'y kayang lampasan, Basta't tayo'y nagsasama, at nag-iinuman!"Hoy hoy, Buloy Naaalala mo pa baNung ako ay na-"kick-out" kasi daw ako'y tanga? (TANGA! )Hoy hoy, Buloy Naaalala mo pa baNung ako ay napalayas ng aking ama't ina? Mangiyak-ngiyak na'ko pero sabi mo ay "Okay lang yan!Basta't tayo'y nagsasama, at nag-iinuman!"Kaya naman ako bilib sa iyo Kasi parang napakatibay mo. Lahat ng iharang ay kaya mong daananBasta't mayroong bentang alak diyan sa may tindahan! Hoy hoy, BuloyNaaalala mo pa ba Nung araw na na-dedo ang aso mong si Morlock? Hoy hoy, BuloyNaaalala mo pa ba Nung ika'y tumawag sa'min at ika'y umiiyak...
Tapos pagkatapos no'n, kay tagal mong nawala.Nagulat na lang ako nung narinig ko ang balita.Akala ko pa naman na marunong kang magdala, Nalaman ko na lang na ika'y nagpakamatay na...…...

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