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The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter


by Carson McCullers

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter Theme of Identity

There is a whole lot of navel gazing going on in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. In fact, many of the novel's characters are downright self-absorbed. But all that self-involvement comes from a good place. They are just trying to suss out who they are. This is way easier said than done. If a character seems relatively sure who he is on the inside, he is woefully unsure who he is to other people. And if a character seems confident in her relationships, it's clear she has been ignoring the kind of self-exploration that comes with finding one's identity.

Questions About Identity

  1. Does Singer help or hurt the other characters' quests to understand their identities? How so?
  2. Do identities every change over the course of the novel? Or is each character stuck being the same old person, day in and day out?
  3. What is Singer's identity? Does he even have one? Or is he just a sounding board for the other characters? Do the main characters impact Singer's sense of self at all?
  4. Which character do you think has the strongest sense of self? Which character has the weakest?
  5. Where does identity come from in the novel? Does it come from within, or does it depend on the opinions of others?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Singer's identity is entirely constructed by those around him. We never understand the real Singer, and neither does the man himself.

Singer is the only character in the novel with a true sense of self. Because he is deaf and mute, he doesn't have to put on a show for others; he just gets to be himself.

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