Election Day is November 3rd! Make sure your voice is heard

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter


Part Two, Chapter 6

Summary Part Two, Chapter 6

After everyone has gone, Portia cleans up the dishes while Dr. Copeland opens his medical files to look at the x-rays of his lungs. He does not know how much time he has left to live, and he does not know how much of what he said will remain with the guests at his party. As Dr. Copeland steers his automobile away from the house to go and make calls among the sick, he feels restless again.


In many ways, this chapter is Dr. Copeland's shining moment of triumph. It is fleeting, but for once in the narrative he appears to feel that all of his efforts have not been in vain. It is cathartic for him to stand up and address large numbers of his race, because only then does he feel that he is fulfilling a purpose that God intended him to do—teaching people.

When Lancy Davis goes to accept his five-dollar prize from Dr. Copeland, he asks the Doctor if he should read the essay aloud. Dr. Copeland says that Lancy should not, but that he would like Lancy to come and speak with him sometime in the next week. It is clear to us that Dr. Copeland recognizes that the young man is smart' he wishes to give Lancy further direction so that he does not waste his talents or pursue the path of violent revenge indicated by his essay.

The speech Dr. Copeland makes is intelligent and articulate, and he takes great pains throughout to stop and explain various different ideas twice to make sure the audience understands him. For a man who silently agonizes and about the condition of the black race all the time, for a man so conscious of injustice to steadfastly face it every day and work to fight ignorance, his patience is a noble quality. Perhaps because Dr. Copeland has failed in his family life to further his dreams for the black race as a whole, it is all the more vital for him to succeed now with others whom he does not know.

The parallel between Dr. Copeland and Jake Blount becomes clear in this chapter. Both men are ardent Marxists, and both are consumed by their passions to the extent that they cannot think of anything else; they both have trouble functioning in a society that constantly reminds them of injustice. However, Dr. Copeland is further concerned about the specific plight of black people, whereas Blount is generally concerned with the common man's apparent ignorance of the injustices brought on by capitalism.

Once again we see the contrast between Dr. Copeland and Portia. She is concerned with preparations for the party and is worried about the fact that Willie has not written her. She mentions that in his last letter Willie requested to have a suit sent to him, and wrote that the con artist B.F. Mason was in the same prison. Dr. Copeland asks if that is all Willie said, and Portia says yes. It seems that Dr. Copeland harbors some hope that Willie will perhaps have some epiphany now that he is in jail; perhaps Dr. Copeland hopes that his son will suddenly remember all his father's advice and decide to change the direction of his life. However, it is clear that no such thoughts have crossed Willie's mind; he is only concerned with making the best of the situation in which he currently finds himself. It is enough for Portia to hear that Willie is getting by, but it is not enough for Dr. Copeland, who still harbors disappointment at Willie's failure to heed his fatherly advice.