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Miss Lonelyhearts

Nathanael West


Key Facts

full title ·  Miss Lonelyhearts

author · Nathanael West

type of work · Novel

genre · Depression-era novel; epistolary; black comedy

language · English

time and place written · Early 1930s, New York

date of first publication · April 1933

publisher · New Directions

narrator · Third-person narrator

climax · Doyle shoots Miss Lonelyhearts on the stairwell

protagonist · Miss Lonelyhearts

antagonist · Shrike; the modern world

setting (time) · 1930s

setting (place) · Primarily New York City, with an interlude at a farm in Connecticut

point of view · Third person, focusing on the experiences of Miss Lonelyhearts

tense · Immediate past tense, though the letters are usually in the present tense

tone · Stark, journalistic, tragic

themes · The failure of Christian faith and Miss Lonelyhearts's Christ complex; literary frustration and castration; the Great Depression and the illusion of the American Dream

motifs · Newspaper form; the sterile, violent, and disordered environment; Miss Lonelyhearts's sickness and resurrection

symbols · The stone; the lamb

foreshadowing · Miss Lonelyhearts notes he will get sick if he thinks about Christ in the first episode

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