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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

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