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Almost every person we meet in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter has very strange qualities and characteristics. What are some of the most obvious and subtle ways that these characters are unique and different?

  • Singer and Antonapoulos, who greet us at the beginning of the book, are both deaf and mute—a condition that was especially isolating in earlier decades of the 20th century.
  • Antonapoulos, who is idolized by Singer, is fretful, cross and eventually institutionalized for being insane.
  • Biff Brannon uses the death of his wife as a way to explore gender roles and embrace his feminine side.
  • Mick, the main female protagonist, is an extremely precocious girl who seems wise and mature beyond her years, she also suffers from the blight of poverty.
  • Jake Blount is a wayward worker who goes on terrific drinking binges that leave him completely incapacitated, or drinks like a fish and never gets drunk. Also, Jake's physical appearance is odd, "He's the type of fellow that kids laugh at and dogs bite."
  • Doctor Mady Copeland's son Willie has his feet cut off in jail, and will spend his life crippled.

The more we learn about these characters, the more we recognize that they do not fit the usual mold. Even the most normal in the bunch, who would probably be considered Doctor Copeland or Mick Kelly, have their very particular ways of looking at the world. By taking the uniqueness and putting it on the outside of each character, McCullers gives her readers a good window into her truth about people: that everyone, no matter how normal they may seem, is a freak on the inside.

Imprisonment | Violence | Sense of Place

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