Friday, April 8, 2011
Thoughts: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Before I started writing down my thoughts on Carson McCuller’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, I looked the book up on Goodreads, and was surprised by the summary provided in the website. Here it is:
"The heroine is the strange young girl, Mick Kelly. The setting is a small Southern town, the cosmos universal and eternal. The characters are the damned, the voiceless, the rejected. Some fight their loneliness with violence and depravity. Some with sex or drink, and some -- like Mick -- with a quiet, intensely personal search for beauty."
Yes, it’s true that Mick Kelly is one of the central characters, but I wouldn’t call her the “heroine” of the novel. The main protagonist in fact is the deaf-mute John Singer.
Just as the spokes of a wheel revolve around a hub, the lives of four other people revolve around John Singer—including Mick Kelly, a thirteen-year-old girl who wants to be a musician, the alcoholic socialist Jake Blount, the black physician Doctor Benedict Mady Copeland, and the owner of the New York Café Biff Brannon. They’re all as different as people could possibly be, but they have one thing in common. John Singer is the one person who could assuage the loneliness, the sense of isolation, they’re drowning in.
I don’t think I can babble about this book like I usually do in this blog. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter touched me on a deep level. When I put the book down, I felt like I learned something new, something deep, but I didn’t know what. Once more, the novel’s true meaning kept eluding me, and I’m still thinking about it until now.
Yes, I loved it, but it was also depressing beyond belief. The characters all strove to lessen the loneliness they felt by confiding in John Singer. All they wanted was to be understood, and, somehow, they believed they found understanding in John Singer. What they didn’t know was that he felt that the only person who could understand him was Antonapolous, his deaf-mute friend who was sent away to an asylum. It’s a never-ending cycle where the characters seek to stop feeling lonely, but are disappointed. The novel was almost devoid of hope.
Overall, though, I felt that the novel showed me that we’re all lonely, which really means we’re not. Do you think that makes sense? The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is definitely a novel I’ll reread in the coming months.