Skip over navigation

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

Carson McCullers

Part Two, Chapter 6

Part Two, Chapter 5

Part Two, Chapter 6, page 2

page 1 of 3
Summary

This chapter is told through the eyes of Dr. Copeland. Every year he holds a party at his house on Christmas Day. Portia helps Dr. Copeland cook for the party, and she voices concern to her father over the fact that Willie has not sent his usual weekly letter from prison.

All the black people in the community have contributed charitable gifts to Dr. Copeland that he will distribute among them, according to need, when they all arrive at the party. Dr. Copeland mentions that he has also invited John Singer because Singer is not like any other white men he has ever known.

Each year at the Christmas party Dr. Copeland awards a five-dollar prize to the student who writes the best essay. This year the theme of the essay contest is "My Ambition: How I Can Better the Position of the Negro Race in Society." After struggling with the decision, Dr. Copeland has decided to give the award to a boy named Lancy Davis. Even though Dr. Copeland does not think the essay is especially good, he feels it the only essay remotely worthy of consideration. However, the content of the essay also disturbs Dr. Copeland; in it Lancy discusses his plans to organize a revolt of black people to take over America so they can get their revenge on white people.

As the guests arrive, Dr. Copeland greets them all. He begins to feel feverish and a little dizzy. As he gives a speech every year, soon all of the guests look at him expectantly. Dr. Copeland begins by mentioning the story of Jesus Christ, but says that because all of them have heard the story of Christ time and time again, he wants to tell them about another man who was very much like Christ.

Dr. Copeland speaks about Karl Marx and his mission for equality of work among all the peoples of the world. Marx wanted the wealth of the world to be equally divided so that there were no poor or rich; each person would have his share. Dr. Copeland explains the value of labor to his assembled guests—he explains that a house is worth more than a cabbage because it takes many men to build a house. He says that poor people, both black and white, are forced to sell their labor because the rich have unfairly appropriated the world's natural resources. Dr. Copeland speaks of how important it is that poor white people and poor black people unite. He emphasizes the importance of education, saying that blacks must continue harboring their strength and dignity and must become educated until the day comes when their abilities will not go to waste in meaningless labor for white men.

All the guests appear to understand the speech, and they clap and stamp their feet. Dr. Copeland feels his heart swell with joy. Nothing feels better to him than to speak the truth and believe that people have listened. People begin leaving the party, and eventually there is nobody left but John Singer. Dr. Copeland tells Singer that teachers and leaders are the greatest needs of the black community.

More Help

Previous Next

Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!

Follow Us