Oprah's Thoughts on Part Two of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
We're delving deep into the yearnings of each lonely heart…and deeper into the desperate sadness of the Depression Era South, as we make our way through Part Two of Carson McCullers' quietly stormy novel. Each character takes us through his or her season of struggle, yearning and change. We begin with glimpses of sweetness and hope, but even in its most hopeful moments, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter foretells strife beneath the surface.
For Mick, the summer is filled with promise. She defiantly walks around the neighborhood at night, unafraid to be alone, drawn to houses where music floats through open windows. She is so overpowered by the music she hears that "it made her think of God strutting in the night." Yet she cannot connect with the sublime. When she thinks of God, "she could only see Mister Singer with a long sheet around him." (p. 119) Despite her longing, "God was silent." In her loneliness and passion, Mick feels a "fiery hurt" that will follow her throughout the story.
Summer rolls into fall and Biff loses his wife Alice. Numb and shut down, at first he feels little grief. But the small details of his wife's life—the smell of her perfume, her lemon hair scent—begin to awaken a deep longing that many of McCullers' "lonely hearts" feel: "What did he understand? Nothing. Where was he headed? Nowhere. What did he want? To know. What? A meaning. Why? A riddle." (p. 237) The questions abound.
More than anyone, the mute Singer embodies the brooding restlessness of this novel. Without his deaf friend Antonapoulus, to "talk" to, Singer's "lonely hands" start talking in his sleep. He walks for miles at night to occupy his time, passing out his card to strangers he meets. His late night walks fuel new speculation about who he is, and as fall becomes winter, the rumors grow ever bolder. The rich claim he is rich, the poor that he is poor, "each man described the mute as he wished him to be." (p. 223) In a town where people are cold, hungry and sick, Singer gives them something to believe in. He seems to be the "answer" to their prayers.