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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

Carson McCullers

Part Two, Chapters 14–15

Part Two, Chapters 12–13

Part Two, Chapters 14–15, page 2

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Chapter 14

This chapter returns to Mick's point of view. Mick says that she can no longer stay in the "inside room"; instead, she must either be around someone else all the time or keep her mind occupied by counting things. These days, she wants to follow John Singer around everywhere. She follows him on his long walks at night, but always stays far enough behind so that he will not see her. Mick only goes up to Mr. Singer's room twice a week because she does not want him to get sick of her.

The Kellys are very hard up for money now, as Etta is still sick and has lost her job. Mr. Kelly decided one day that he would advertise in order to get more watch-repair business. Mick helps her father paint a number of signs, and he puts them up everywhere. However, the signs do not appear to have much effect, and Mr. Kelly is very disappointed.

Mick starts to feel that there is something wrong with following Mr. Singer, so she tries hard to stay busy at home instead. She has made up her mind to forget about Harry, and in many ways she has indeed forgotten about him. He wrote her once, as he said he would, to tell her that he has a job at a garage in Birmingham and to ask her if she is alright. She answered with a card saying "O.K.," just as they had planned.

Nights are difficult for Mick because she does not have enough to keep her mind occupied. Because Etta is sick, Mick has moved into George's room. She tries to make George stay up so she will have someone to play games with her. Mick wants to tell Mr. Singer about what happened between her and Harry, but she does not know where to begin or whether he would understand.

Then, one day after school has been let out, Hazel comes home and tells the family that a job has opened up at Woolworth's; a clerk is leaving to get married. Hazel asks Mick if she would be interested in the job, but Mr. Kelly replies that Mick is too young and should be allowed time to finish growing up first. Bill and Hazel agree, and even Mrs. Kelly chimes in to say that she would rather keep Mick at home.

The family's protectiveness moves Mick, as she feels like it reveals that they all truly care for her after all. Mick suddenly says she would like to take the job. At first she is happy with her decision, but then she realizes that taking this job will mean the end of high school—once her family gets used to the extra income she provides, it will be impossible for her to quit and return to school. Mick worries about this prospect, so she asks Mr. Singer if he thinks it a good idea that she took the job. He nods, and she feels better about it.

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