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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

Carson McCullers

Part One, Chapter 4

Part One, Chapter 3

Part One, Chapter 4, page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

The narrative of Chapter 4 focuses on Jake Blount's point of view. Jake wakes up in John Singer's room and sees Singer sitting at a table playing chess. Singer pours Jake a pitcher of ice water. As Jake dresses, Singer takes out a business card with his name on it along with the words, "I am a deaf-mute, but I read the lips and understand what is said to me. Please do not shout." Blount is shocked, as he had not realized that Singer was mute, despite the man's silence. They chat for a moment, and Singer writes another note telling Jake he can stay in this room until he finds a place to live.

Blount leaves to go find a job, bringing his dirty overalls with him so that he can throw them out. Mick Kelly is still sitting on the stairs, and she shows Blount where the garbage can is. He throws the overalls away and walks into the center of town. He buys a paper in a shop and sees a help-wanted ad for a mechanic. Jake drops by the New York Café to say hello to Biff Brannon, telling Biff that it will be a while before he can pay him back for all the drinks. Then Blount goes to see about the job he saw advertised.

The job Jake seeks is a mechanic's job, fixing up and running a ramshackle merry-go-round at a carnival in a filthy mill district near the river. A red- haired man named Patterson appears and asks Blount about his experience. Quickly convinced Blount is qualified, Patterson gives him the job, saying he can start the following afternoon. Jake shakes hands with Patterson and leaves.

On his way home, Jake stops and sits on a doorstep and rolls a cigarette with three other men. He tells the men, "I got the Gospel in me." He explains further that the Gospel he has is not comprised of religious fervor, but rather of "the truth." Blount asks if the men work for the mills, and they say yes. He asks if they have ever been on strike. One man replies that there was a strike several years ago, but the mills just sent out trucks to other towns to bring in replacement workers.

Jake becomes very angry upon hearing this story, but the men do not share his wrath. They begin to laugh at him, so he walks back to the Kellys' and vents to Singer about his frustration with the ignorance of the mill workers. Blount tells Singer about the books he has read, by Marx and Veblen, and says that the more he studies, the madder he gets. As Jake talks, Singer keeps pouring him more wine. Jake feels that Singer understands him, he and falls asleep once the bottle is finished.

Analysis

Blount is one of the most volatile characters in the novel, and occasionally one of the most disgusting. He drinks constantly, bathes rarely, and behaves erratically. In Chapter 2, Biff notes Blount's capacity for speaking in different ways the sudden fervor with which Blount speaks to Singer. Blount's bout of violence stems from his frustration with the world; we sees other, similar outbursts—mostly verbal but occasionally physical—throughout the rest of the novel.

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