The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

by: Carson McCullers

Part Two, Chapters 14–15

Summary Part Two, Chapters 14–15

Chapter 15 is told from Singer's point of view. It has been six months since he has seen Antonapoulos, so he plans another visit. Singer gathers together some gifts he has bought for his friend, along with a fruit basket and a box of strawberries. It takes him all night to get to Antonapoulos's hospital by train. Singer changes into a nice suit at his hotel and then goes over to the hospital, where a young orderly tells him that Antonapoulos is dead.

Singer, in a state of shock, wanders around the town listlessly until it is time to catch his train for the return trip. He works at the jewelry shop the next day, comes home, smokes a cigarette, and shoots himself in the chest.

Analysis

McCullers does not make it clear why Mick can no longer stay in her "inner room." Perhaps because she has had to quit her music lessons, it is frustrating to continually think of music that is too complex for her to express adequately on paper. Alternatively, perhaps she is subconsciously worried about what happened between her and Harry. Whatever the reason, Mick begins to try to surround herself with other people all the time; when that fails, she occupies her mind with rote thoughts, such as counting the flowers on the wallpaper or figuring out the area of her house in square feet. Mick can no longer even turn to George, her once-faithful companion, as a playmate; he has grown distanced from her ever since the accident with Baby.

It does not appear—at least overtly—that Mick is upset about Harry. She claims to have forgotten about him; nothing about her behavior, save her inability to remain in the "inside room" of her thoughts, would indicate otherwise. However, because Mick is restless and cannot seem to find any sort of contentment, she begins following Singer around. As all the characters do, she turns to the mute in search of peace.

One of Mick's most heroic moments in the novel comes when she offers to take the Woolworth's job; this decision means she will have to give up playing the piano in the school gym, as well as most likely drop out of high school. Mick initially is happy with her decision because she knows it will help her family, but then, when she realizes all the sacrifice it entails, she is less certain that she has made the right choice. Only until Mick discusses it with Singer does she feel at ease; the fact that he seems to think she made a good decision is a huge relief to her.

Chapter 15 is the last chapter narrated by Singer. Upon learning of Antonapoulos's death, Singer feels he has no reason left to live. Even though Antonapoulos had never reciprocated Singer's feelings of devotion, Singer had been happy just to be in his friend's presence. Throughout the novel, McCullers has presented love as the only antidote to isolation; however, none of her characters except Singer is really unselfish enough to love another with complete sincerity. Furthermore, even though Singer truly and selflessly loves Antonapoulos, the Greek only responds to affection instinctively, as a pet or a baby would do. The attention Singer gives to the other four characters is partly love, but it is not complete because he does not fully understand the characters needs—nor do any of them conceive of Singer as someone who might also need reassurance. It is sadly ironic that no true communication takes place between Singer and his disciples. Indeed, they all remain egoists who never understand the motive behind the suicide of a man they have considered their closest confidante. Singer's last name in and of itself is ironic: he cannot even speak—let alone sing—his thoughts and feelings to most of the world around him.