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Miss Lonelyhearts

Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title Miss Lonelyhearts

author Nathanael West

type of work Novel

genre Depression-era novel; epistolary; black comedy

language English

time and place written Early 1930s, New York

date of first publication April 1933

publisher New Directions

narrator Third-person narrator

climax Doyle shoots Miss Lonelyhearts on the stairwell

protagonist Miss Lonelyhearts

antagonist Shrike; the modern world

setting (time) 1930s

setting (place) Primarily New York City, with an interlude at a farm in Connecticut

point of view Third person, focusing on the experiences of Miss Lonelyhearts

tense Immediate past tense, though the letters are usually in the present tense

tone Stark, journalistic, tragic

themes The failure of Christian faith and Miss Lonelyhearts's Christ complex; literary frustration and castration; the Great Depression and the illusion of the American Dream

motifs Newspaper form; the sterile, violent, and disordered environment; Miss Lonelyhearts's sickness and resurrection

symbols The stone; the lamb

foreshadowing Miss Lonelyhearts notes he will get sick if he thinks about Christ in the first episode