The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

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Summary

Part Two, Chapter 1

Summary Part Two, Chapter 1

At this point the party has taken on a life of its own. Several of the neighborhood kids who were not invited have come anyway. Mick initially tries to restore order, but then she realizes that the party is more exciting this way, so she goes into the street to join the fray. Then she suddenly gets tired and yells for everyone to go home. She changes back into her shorts and tennis shoes and walks to the house in the rich neighborhood where she listens to classical music in the shrubbery. This night, the radio plays Beethoven, and the music has a profound effect on Mick. She falls asleep in the shrubbery for a while, then wakes up, realizes where she is, and runs home.

Analysis

It is an uplifting moment in the narrative when Mick suddenly realizes that the reason her father often calls her over is just to talk to her. This realization demonstrates Mick's growing maturity and sensitivity to the people she loves. She suddenly feels bad for her father, aware that he loved being a carpenter and that he now feels useless to the family because everyone is always busy and the house is always crowded. When Mick takes time to talk with her father, we know that—for a moment at least—he is happy.

Mick's plan to have a party so she can get to know some of the kids at school is another indication that she is growing up. She notes that in middle school she could walk up to anyone she wanted and become friends with them; however, in high school it has gotten more socially complicated. Nonetheless Mick often still feels young, as we see when she puts on the fancy dress and makeup and feels like a stranger to herself. Mick appears to be mildly attracted to her childhood friend Harry Minowitz; she notes that he looks different without his glasses on. However, it turns out that Harry cannot see very well without them, so he is forced to put them on again when they take the promenade together. The fact that Mick mentions Mozart to Harry at all is significant, as music is typically a very private and personal concern for her.

The novel takes place during the late 1930s, when tensions were rising in Europe and many felt apprehension over Hitler's regime in Germany. Harry's inquiry as to whether Mozart is a Fascist or a Nazi is initially funny because we knows that Mozart died long before Hitler ever came into power. On another level, however, the question is sobering: we see that the potential for war casts another shadow across the already difficult lives of all the characters. Harry has avidly been following the news, and he is eager to tell Mick more about the situation in Germany and what "fascism" is. Mick, however, becomes distracted by the crazed state of the party when they return, so they do not go around the block again.

Mick is similar to John Singer in that she also likes to take walks at night alone. She is markedly affected after listening to the Beethoven symphony, so moved by the music that she feels it leaves a painful feeling in her. Indeed, she even pummels herself on the leg and roughly scratches her hand to relieve this painful feeling the music leaves. This strange tendency toward self-mutilation is also present in Jake Blount; both he and Mick seem to injure themselves because they are powerless to do the things they really want, yet are nonetheless tormented by their passions. Mick cannot write down the notes for the music she hears, and her family cannot afford a piano; likewise, Blount cannot find anyone to believe in his Marxist ideology, or even anyone intelligent enough to listen and understand.