Gay Enuendo in Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

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The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter

In Carson McCuller's novel, The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, the main theme is isolation and a search for some connection to be normal. McCuller's traces the lives of five characters that center their lives around one main character named John Singer, a deaf-mute. These characters are representative of all people and not just their specific characters in the novel. McCuller's is characterized as a Southern-Gothic writer, and was known for her depiction of lonely characters, as well as carefully describing the sexual alienation of their desolate lives. This novel was considered one of McCuller's best works, and it certainly reflects the strange beauty and the encoded messages that she was so well known for. In The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, one theme that particularly stands out is the gay love between John Singer and Spiros Antonopoulos, as well as homosexuality within the other characters personas. The fact that the two subjects are deaf and mute, the events that take place throughout the novel and the hidden language within the writing, all lead the reader to believe that a message is being sent and that message is that John Singer has a homosexual love for S. Antonopoulos. Although it is never obvious that the novel is gay or lesbian, characters like the tomboy, Mick, the sensitive Biff Brannon as well as John Singer himself, offers a resistance to the social ideal of heterosexuality.

When the novel The Heart is A Lonely Hunter was first published in 1940, same sex relationships were extremely taboo. Gay content was often coded in books and movies during this time period and never expressed openly. Gay's were considered crazy and outcasts and as the story goes, Antonopoulos, John Singer's, Greek, male companion who he desperately loved, was sent to a mental hospital after he went insane at the beginning of the novel. Singer was very upset that his friend was taken from him. From the first pages of the novel, one can assume that Singer and Antonopoulos are two lovers: "Every morning the two friends walked silently together until they reached the fruit and candy store..." The symbolism in the way the two are deaf and mute can symbolize many things but the way that they walked silently until they reached the fruit and candy story implies that these two are hiding something. The word "fruit" also is slang for a queer person. Singer is the obvious homosexual in the story. He is the one who does the house chores while living with Antonopoulos. He is somewhat of a motherly figure to him; always looking out for him, and then wanting to take custody of Antonopoulos when he is sent to the mental hospital. Singer sends him a love letter and gives him gifts. The letter reads, "...The way I need you is loneliness I cannot bear. Soon I will come again. My vacation is not due for six months but I think I can arrange it before then. I think I will have to. I am not meant to be alone and without you who understand." Singer is very lonely without Antonopoulos, and his dream after he writes the letter describes Singer and Antonopoulos naked on the street. This dream of two naked men is somewhat of a homosexual fantasy in itself. The gifts he sent Antonopoulos are not very masculine either, such as the night clothes and the slippers. When Singer hasn't seen his friend in six months, he decides to take the train to visit him. He gathers some gifts; again a very symbolic fruit arrangement and dresses up in a suit. When the young hospital worker tells him that Antonopoulos is dead, Singer goes into a state of shock. Singer's love for his friend Antonopoulos eventually makes him take his own life.

The symbolism in this novel is everywhere. Consider John Singer's disability to hear and speak. A gay person in the south in the 1940's experienced a lot of alienation and isolation from the rest of the public. They were not able to express themselves, as the gay's today are able to, nor were they able to fit into the...
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