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The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter


by Carson McCullers

Doctor Benedict Mady Copeland Timeline and Summary

  • One night, a drunken Jake tries to drag Copeland into the New York Café. Copeland quickly leaves after white customers protest. We can already see that this guy's story will be filled with drama.
  • Doctor Copeland reads alone in his kitchen when his estranged daughter Portia comes by for dinner: in true father-daughter fashion, they argue some and have a vaguely uncomfortable meal.
  • Portia's husband Highboy and her brother Willie stop by to see Copeland, too: more awkwardness ensues.
  • Copeland visits Singer to ask him for advice in dealing with a deaf baby he recently delivered. After that encounter, the two become friends.
  • The doctor is devastated to learn that his son Willie has been arrested. He tries to get Willie a lawyer but Willie is convicted and sentenced to nine months hard labor.
  • Then he attends a very awkward family reunion dinner with his late wife's family and his long-estranged children.
  • To make thing even worse, Copeland's health starts to decline: he has tuberculosis. But he still has to be the doctor, and that winter, he is kept busy treating the flu and pneumonia in town.
  • At his annual Christmas party, Copeland lectures the crowd about Karl Marx in his version of a Christmas sermon. Fun party!
  • Copeland has a near-breakdown after learning that Willie has been crippled.
  • He zones out at the Kelly house for a while and chats with Mick.
  • Copeland heads to the courthouse to get some justice for his son, but while he's there, he gets arrested by some bigoted cops instead.
  • He spends a bad night in jail and after he's released, his health is even worse than before.
  • Copeland has a very long discussion (a.k.a. argument) with Jake and the two part on bad terms after some major political disagreements.
  • At the end of his story, Copeland goes out to the country to rest on Grandpapa's farm. We're pretty sure he won't recover from his illness. The (depressing) end.