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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 Isolation

Shmoopers, it ain't called The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter for nothin'. All of our characters are isolated in one way or another, and they have a love-hate relationship with being alone. Of course, it's important to point out that isolation and being alone are by no means the same thing. What's the difference? Well, we get scenes of all our main characters sitting alone and thinking, but that's not always a lonely or bad thing; Mick, for example, likes to sit alone outside a rich person's window, listening to classical music. But isolation? That's a whole other story, and it's definitely not a good thing. These characters are constantly isolated, even when they are surrounded by others. They feel alone inside, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and that causes all kinds of problems for these lonely hunters.

Questions About Isolation

  1. Which characters seem to enjoy their alone time? Which characters hate it?
  2. When does Mick retreat to her inside room? When does she go to her outside room? Which room does she seem to prefer?
  3. Singer spends a lot of time with other people, but Shmoop thinks he might be one of the most isolated characters in the book. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  4. How do these characters try to overcome or cope with their loneliness? Do any of them succeed?
  5. Do the main characters' connections with Singer help them overcome their isolation at all?

Chew on This

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

Jake is totally the most isolated character in the book, both literally and figuratively.

Singer feels most alone when he is surrounded by people, because they can never understand him.

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