The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter Literary Analysis

Topics: Southern Gothic, Gothic fiction, African American Pages: 3 (1787 words) Published: October 17, 2014
An Analysis of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers, is written in third person point of view. However, the perspective switches between five characters. This novel is classified as a Southern Gothic novel. It explores isolation, religion, and race and racism. Throughout the novel, we see the characters’ isolation from society and the affects of isolation on these characters. The theme of religion is also portrayed, mainly in the character of John Singer, who is seen as a Christ figure. Race and racism are addressed in this novel, mainly through the eyes of Doctor Copeland, an African American physician. McCullers uses third person point of view in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. The third person narrator allows us to hear the private thoughts and see the actions of all the characters (“Big Read”). However, the perspective of the novel is split between five characters: John Singer, Mick Kelly, Jake Blount, Doctor Copeland, and Biff Brannon. Each of these characters has sections of the book written from their perspective, but there are disagreements as to whether the protagonist of the novel is John Singer or Mick Kelly. McCullers said that “Singer is the hub of a wheel around which the other characters move like spokes,” which leads us to believe that Singer is the protagonist (Whitt). So, Singer is the character that is the focus of the other four characters. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is a Southern Gothic novel. It is considered a Southern Gothic novel because it takes place in the American South. Also, Southern Gothic novels are known for their off-kilter characters. The people in these types of stories are generally “not right in the head” (“Oprah’s Book Club Collection”). This can be seen in the character of Biff Brannon, who says to his wife Alice at the beginning of the book, “I like freaks” (McCullers 14). Biff goes on to say that, “He had a special feeling for sick people and cripples. Whenever somebody with a...


Cited: Champion, Laurie. "Black and White Christs in Carson McCullers 's 'The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter '." Southern Literary Journal. 24.1 (1991): 47-52. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20078029?seq=1.
"The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter." The Big Read. Arts Midwest, 2011. Web. 29 Apr 2012. http://www.neabigread.org/books/lonelyhunter/readers02.php"(Lula) Carson (Smith) McCullers." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/bic1McCullers, Carson. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. 2000. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1940. 14. Print.
Whitt, Jan. "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter." The New Georgia Encyclopedia. Boulder: The New Georgia Encyclopedia, 2008. Web. 29 Apr 2012. http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-476.
"Your Guide to ‘The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter’." Oprah 's Book Club Collection. Oprah 's Book Club, 21 Apr. 2004. Web. 29 Apr 2012. http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/The-Heart-Is-a-Lonely-Hunter-by-Carson-McCullers_1.
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