Skip over navigation

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

Carson McCullers

Part Two, Chapter 5

Part Two, Chapters 3–4

Part Two, Chapter 5, page 2

page 1 of 2

Mick has started learning to play the piano. She offers a classmate of hers, Delores Brown, her lunch money in exchange for piano lessons. One day Mick comes home to find Bubber and a neighborhood boy, Spareribs, sitting on the sidewalk. Spareribs has his new rifle with him; the gun had been his father's and was given to him when his father passed away. Spareribs warns Bubber not to mess with the trigger, as the gun is loaded with BBs. As the kids sit on the sidewalk, Harry Minowitz goes into his house next door. For a joke, Mick throws up an arm and says "Heil!" but Harry does not find it funny. He disappears into his house, and Mick immediately feels bad for offending him.

Then Baby Wilson comes out from her house across the street, dressed up in a little pink dance costume with a pink pocketbook. Bubber calls to Baby, but she does not answer and continues down the street. Spareribs comments that she is going to Biff Brannon's place to get candy, since he is her uncle and gives her candy for free. Bubber comments that he wants a butterfly-colored costume so he can dance around in the streets like Baby does. Spareribs calls Bubber a sissy, but Mick warns that Bubber is tough and smart.

Baby comes back down the street, holding a box of popcorn candy. Bubber says that she looks pretty in her pink costume. He calls again to her to come over, and he holds the rifle up to his shoulder to pretend to shoot at her. Unfortunately, Bubber actually does pull the trigger by accident. Baby crumples down to the sidewalk, her head bloody. Bubber screams.

Soon a crowd of people gathers around, and an ambulance comes and takes Baby to the hospital. Baby is not dead, but her skull is fractured. Afterward, no one can find Bubber. Mick knows he must be hiding in the treehouse in the back year, so she goes there and indeed he is there. She tells Bubber that he should stay hidden in the treehouse because, she says, he has in fact killed Baby and could therefore go to prison. Mick lies in order to scare Bubber into never shooting a gun again. She plans to go back to the treehouse in an hour to tell him she was lying, at which point she thinks he will have thought about it and will feel bad enough.

Mick goes back into the house, where her parents are worried and nervous. Lucile Wilson and Biff came over. Lucile says that she is not going to sue the Kellys, but that she wants them to pay for Baby's hospital bills and all related costs. Mick suddenly feels guilty and goes back outside to talk to Bubber again, but he is no longer in the treehouse.

Mick runs and tells her family that they better start looking for Bubber. She suggests he might have gone to Portia's house, and indeed they find a note he left at Portia's house saying that he went to "Florada." Mick knows that this is a ruse to throw them off, and that in reality Bubber is probably on the road that goes toward Atlanta—the only other faraway place he has ever heard of.

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