Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Carson McCullers's The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: Introduction
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: Plot Summary
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: Themes
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: Quotes
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: Characters
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: Symbols
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Carson McCullers
Historical Context of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Other Books Related to The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
- Full Title: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
- When Written: 1930s
- Where Written: New York City and Columbus, Georgia
- When Published: 1940
- Literary Period: Modernism
- Genre: Novel
- Setting: An unnamed mill town in the Deep South, possibly in Georgia.
- Climax: Shortly after learning of the death of his longtime friend Spiros Antonapoulos, John Singer commits suicide.
- Antagonist: Loneliness and isolation; racism; capitalism
- Point of View: Third Person
Extra Credit for The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Uncanny Resemblance. Over the year, many critics and scholars have drawn an autobiographical connection between Carson McCullers and Mick Kelly, one of the novel’s protagonists. The name “Mick” could arguably be read as a derivation of the author’s married last name. Like Mick, McCullers was a tomboy growing up, was also a devoted and talented pianist obsessed with music, and was also the daughter of a watchmaker who struggled to provide for his family. While the specific details of Mick’s girlhood very well may be the stuff of fiction, it’s clear McCullers drew upon her own childhood in creating one of the novel’s most iconic and memorable characters.
Up For Interpretation. The character of John Singer—a deaf and mute man who serves as the novel’s centripetal point, drawing a group of lonely and disconnected people together—has been the subject of many different theories and interpretations over the years. Some scholars suggest Singer’s friendship with Antonapoulos—another deaf and mute man—is homosexual in nature, and that the men’s shared afflictions are symbolic of their need to remain closeted in the hostile, socially conservative environment of the Deep South. Others have suggested that Singer is an allegory for God, a benevolent but inscrutable presence who must listen to the prayers, worries, hopes, and rants of others without ever being able to make himself heard or understood in return. Whether interpreted literally or allegorically, Singer remains one of 20th-century literature’s most striking, intriguing, and baffling characters, and his thoughts and actions have fascinated readers for nearly 80 years.