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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

title The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

author Carson McCullers

type of work Novel

genre Southern realism; coming-of-age novel

language English

time and place written 1937–1940; New York City and Charlotte

date of first publication 1940

publisher Houghton Mifflin Co.

narrator An anonymous third person narrator

point of view Third person omniscient

tone Varies depending on which character is the focus of that part of the narrative (Singer is calm, Mick is childish and excitable, Jake is ranting; Dr. Copeland is precise yet angry; Biff is thoughtful and somewhat jumbled

tense Immediate past

setting (time) Spring 1938–August 1939

setting (place) An unnamed town in the middle of the Deep South

protagonists John Singer, Mick Kelly, Biff Brannon, Dr. Copeland, and Jake Blount

major conflict The characters' hopes and ambitions are stymied by life's circumstances and each character's individual flaws

climax John Singer's suicide

falling action Dr. Copeland's move to Grandpapa's house; Jake's departure; Mick's thoughts about Mr. Singer at the New York Café; Biff's thoughts about Mr. Singer at the café late at night

themes Man's struggle against isolation; religion as self-delusion; heroism; man's search for connection and redemption; society's repression of the individual

motifs Dreams

symbols John Singer; Mick's violin

foreshadowing Violence is foreshadowed at several points in the narrative