"Then suddenly he felt a quickening in him. His heart turned and he leaned his back against the counter for support. For in a swift radiance of illumination he saw a glimpse of human struggle and of valor. Of the endless fluid passage of humanity through endless time. And of those who labor and of those who—one word—love. His soul expanded. But for a moment only. For in him he felt a warning, a shaft of terror... he was suspended between radiance and darkness. Between bitter irony and faith."

This quote is taken from the end of Part Three, Chapter 4—the last chapter of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. The passage is narrated from Biff Brannon's point of view. Biff's epiphany is unique in the novel; no other character experiences a sudden insight as to what the meaning of life may be. This passage also demonstrates McCullers's lyrical capabilities: the language is much like poetry. At the end of the novel, despite all the depressing events and failed hopes and dreams we have witnessed, the message McCullers leaves with us is an uplifting one. She ends with the assertion that, even though human love may often be misguided, the wondrous fact that humans are capable of loving and believing in others makes life worth living in all its strange and difficult variation.