Actress Marlee Matlin, Miss America and Oprah

In her novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers offers the "hearing" world a glimpse of what it may have been like to be deaf in the 1930s. To learn more about being deaf, Oprah sat down with Oscar© winning actress Marlee Matlin, her signer Jack, and former Miss America Heather Whitestone McCallum to help us all understand.

"I was impressed with Carson's ability to talk about another time and another generation," said Marlee. "She captured deafness, not with the terms we use to describe it today, but accurately for her time and place."
Heather Whitestone McCallum

Miss America 1995, Heather Whitestone McCallum, says that she can identify with the characters from The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter because she too felt isolated when she was growing up deaf.

"When I grew up I felt lonely. Back at that time the hearing aid was not as good as it is today. It was very frustrating for me—I had a bitter feeling towards hearing people," Heather describes. "Today, people have a better attitude towards deaf people. Technology is much better, and that's what makes such a difference."
Miss America Heather Whitestone McCallum and Marlee Matlin

According to author Carson McCullers, everyone's heart is always hunting for something. What do these two women feel their hearts are hunting for?

Heather: Look at my life. Look how many blessings I've received. I am happy even though I'm deaf.

Marlee: I'm always hunting for comfort, for myself and for my children. Making sure that my family is safe, and healthy. It's as simple as that. Remember, the handicap is not in the ear. It's in the mind.

Born Richard Melville Hull, singer Moby got his catchy nickname from his literature-loving father. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is a Moby favorite.

"It's a masterpiece of contemporary fiction because it does such a good job of describing the alienation and disconnection that we all feel. Almost every character is a sympathetic character. They're making these efforts to connect and they're all desperately vulnerable at the same time." According to Moby, it's always easy to find the music, "It's almost like a symphony of the human condition."

Learn more about this music in the novel.


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