Miss Lonelyhearts

by: Nathanael West

Peter Doyle

Characters Peter Doyle

Doyle, with his crippled foot and face that resembles a composite photograph, is a sort of universal grotesque. He is also the grotesque with whom Miss Lonelyhearts has his first meaningful contact, as the two grasp hands in the speakeasy and at Doyle's home. In his letter to Miss Lonelyhearts, Doyle repeatedly asks what the "point" of life is, synopsizing the question all the other letter-writers seem to be asking. But Doyle, emasculated in his marriage to Fay, also kills Miss Lonelyhearts in a symbolic crucifixion. Doyle loses his faith in Miss Lonelyhearts twice: first when he believes his manipulative wife's claim that Miss Lonelyhearts tried to rape her, and second when he mistakes Miss Lonelyhearts's embrace on the stairs for an attack. Just as Jesus suffered for the sins of man, so does Miss Lonelyhearts die for the sins of Doyle—and all the grotesques.