The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

by: Carson McCullers

Part Two, Chapters 8–9

Summary Part Two, Chapters 8–9

Chapter 8

Chapter 8 is told through Biff Brannon's point of view. Biff is pondering many things. He thinks about Hitler and the war, but he especially meditates about John Singer. He wonders why Singer goes away on the train and will not say where he has been. Biff also wonders why everyone persists in thinking that Singer is someone that he probably is not; he thinks that most people are likely to have mistaken impressions of the mute.

One day, rummaging through the bathroom closet, Biff finds a bottle of Agua Florida perfume that Alice used to wear. He uncorks it and dabs it on himself, and memories of Alice flood his mind. Biff has completely redone their bedroom—he made new curtains, put a carpet on the floor, and bought a studio couch to replace the old rusty bed. He likes to sit in the room to think and smoke a cigar or watch the sunlight on the walls. First thing each morning, Louis, the new boy who has replaced Willie in the kitchen, brings Biff coffee in bed.

That evening, Lucile and Baby come into the café to have dinner. Baby's head is still bald and bandaged. The girl is sulky and pouting. Biff sends her into the kitchen to tell Louis to bring out some ice cream and to play the harmonica for her. While Baby is in the kitchen, Biff tells Lucile not to worry about her so much.

Then Singer and Jake Blount come in. Biff notices for the first time that Blount always walks behind Singer, just the way Singer always used to walk behind the big Greek fellow he was always with. Biff wonders why he never noticed this before. Biff asks the waitress to take over. He goes for a walk to see if he can find Mick Kelly. She is not sitting on the stairs of her house as she was last Sunday, so Biff goes back to the café, hoping she will come in later to have hot chocolate. Biff always wants to give things to Mick.

Biff walks back to the café and chats with Harry Minowitz, his new employee. Then Biff goes downstairs and plays his mandolin and sings for while. He thinks about Alice again, and about death in general. He then goes back upstairs and resumes his place behind the counter.

Chapter 9

This chapter is told through Mick's point of view. She mentions how difficult her family's financial situation is now that they have to pay the doctor bills for Baby's gunshot wound. Mick has had to stop her piano lessons. She has started writing her own songs in a notebook she keeps in a hatbox under her bed. She has named all of the songs and written her initials underneath the compositions. In order to write the music down, she has to sing it to herself over and over, which makes her voice hoarse all the time.