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The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter


by Carson McCullers


Character Analysis

Daisy's father, known in the book as "Grandpapa," acts as a community leader and family head. But if you're thinking he's like Doctor Copeland, think again. Grandpapa is actually set up as a foil to his son-in-law: he's opposed to Doctor Copeland in terms of personality, work, speech, and – most of all – beliefs. That's a lot of opposition, so it's no wonder these two polar opposites don't really get along so well. There's not much common ground between them and they don't even seem to speak the same language:

"I believe in all us struggling along and helping each other out, and some day us will have a reward in the Beyond."

"Pshaw!" Doctor Copeland said bitterly. "I believe in justice now."

"What that you say you believe in? You speak so hoarse I ain't able to hear you."

"In justice for us. Justice for us Negroes."

"That right." (3.1.63-7)

Copeland is clearly fighting an uphill battle against deeply ingrained community beliefs, which – surprise, surprise – Grandpapa represents. A lot of these beliefs revolve around religion, and as one of the book's most notable religious figures, Grandpapa's highly traditional and conservative ways just don't sit well with Copeland.

"And this here the way I done planned it. I reason I will get to stand before Jesus with all my childrens and grandchildrens and great-grandchildrens and kinfolks and friends and I say to him, 'Jesus Christ, us is all sad colored peoples.' And then He will place His holy hand upon our heads and straightaway us will be as white as cotton. That the plan and reasoning that been in my heart a many and a many a time." (2.3.88)

This is kind of disturbing, don't you think? So is Grandpapa an exaggeration to prove a point? Does he convey to us how damaging racism can be? Either way, it's clear that he's a majorly unsettling figure who seems to just reinforce the status quo.