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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 Life, Consciousness, and Existence

What does it all mean? You won't find an answer in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, but you will find a lot of people asking that very question, plus a few more like who are we? and what do we mean to each other? For these characters, reconciling their public personas to their inner selves is quest that drives their actions. Unfortunately, everyone fails, and miserably. These lonely hunters can barely manage to maintain their relationships with others, let alone figure out their own senses of self and purpose. In the end, they have to face the fact that often, life seems like one big fat cruel joke. If that sounds, cynical, well this book just might be cynical. But we can't forget that there are moments of hope, too; they're just a little hard to spot. Can you think of any?

Questions About Life, Consciousness, and Existence

  1. What does each of the four main characters (besides Singer) seem to think about life? Do they have their own life philosophies? How are these philosophies revealed in their one-sided conversations with Singer?
  2. Does Singer have a life philosophy of his own? What do you think it is?
  3. Which character has the most positive or uplifting view of life? Or do they all just think life is just plain awful?
  4. How aware do these characters seem? Do they notice the world and people around them, or are they too busy being wrapped up in their own thoughts?
  5. If you had to sum up the meaning of life according to The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, what would you say? Or could you even say anything in the first place? Staring off into space just might be a valid answer here...

Chew on This

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

Mick focuses her entire life on the pursuit of beauty, but the problem is, she has only one idea of what that beauty is, which limits her ability to see beauty around her.

Singer's problem is that he has no life philosophy of his own. If he could stop listening to everyone else and start to come up with his own ideas, he might have led a more fulfilling life.

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