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The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter


by Carson McCullers

Bubber Kelly

Character Analysis

Bubber is a six-year-old kid with huge potential (and a hilarious name) who is destroyed by terrible luck and unfortunate circumstances. On the potential side of things, he's super smart and perceptive: he likes to read and he picks up Spanish faster than Mick does.

Unfortunately, there's more working against him on the terrible luck side of things. In some ways, he is something of an icon for the times, as Bubber is totally destroyed byhis environment. Think of that scene where Bubber's new bike gets taken away after the family can't make the installment payments: just this quick glimpse into his life really demonstrates the impact of poverty on this kid.

It's All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Shot

You'll of course remember how Bubber accidentally shoots Baby Wilson. What's ironic is that this incident comes closer to killing Bubber than Baby Wilson – it totally destroys him emotionally. In the aftermath, Bubber (now George) grows scarily violent and then extremely withdrawn, which is equally frightening.

There were never any kind of yells like the ones Bubber made. The veins in his neck stood out and his fists were hard as little rocks. […]

But after that night there was not much of a chance for her to tease him any more – her or anybody else. After he shot Baby the kid was not ever like little Bubber again. He always kept his mouth shut and he didn't fool around with anybody. (2.5.149, 156)

The shift from Bubber to George is a crucial identity transformation. Bubber dramatically lives out the internal changes and shifts that plague our main quartet. And for all you lit lovers out there, this is the guy to watch – he highlights themes with the best of 'em.