Miss Lonelyhearts

by: Nathanael West

Betty

Intriguingly, Miss Lonelyhearts once refers to Betty as "Betty the Buddha." This tag makes some sense, as to him she symbolizes order, just as Buddhism promotes inner peace. However, Buddhism also advocates the philosophy that life is suffering, and that detachment from desire is the only way to achieve Nirvana, a heightened state of spiritual wisdom. "Betty the Buddha," on the other hand, only tries to run away from suffering—she whisks Miss Lonelyhearts away from the chaotic city to the restful countryside—and she clearly has strong desires, for Miss Lonelyhearts and the country especially. Having few problems of her own, Betty acts as a naïve foil to Miss Lonelyhearts's spiritual crises. She thinks his taking an advertising job would solve all his problems. Furthermore, she acts according to trite, movie-cliché conventions at the end of the novel, when Miss Lonelyhearts gallantly proposes marriage to her again after she reveals she is pregnant. If anything, Betty resembles less Buddha and more Eve, as her virginal status—before Miss Lonelyhearts sleeps with her at the end of the country visit—and apple- eating in the country attests.