© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter


by Carson McCullers

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter Part 1: Chapter 3 Summary

  • Mick Kelly wakes up early since it's so hot.
  • She gets her younger brothers, Bubber and baby Ralph (we are totally not making up those names), and hauls them out for the day.
  • They head over to a new house that's being built and Mick climbs all the way up to the roof. She loves being alone so she can think and plan. She constantly thinks of music, and all the things she'll invent and do, and the foreign places she'll visit.
  • But her brothers start to get fussy.
  • "She wanted to think for a long time about two or three certain people, to sing to herself, and to make plans. But that Ralph was still hollering and there wouldn't be any peace for her at all." (1.3.15)
  • Mick reluctantly climbs down and goes inside the house for a bit.
  • She writes some graffiti on the wall: Edison, Dick Tracy, Mussolini, Pussy (she couldn't have kept it decent, huh?), and finally the name of a man who wrote music that she really likes, "Motsart" (1.3.22). Those words are like Mick and her era in a nutshell. We've got inventions, Hollywood glamor, world politics, swearing, and music.
  • Mick slowly walks home and tells Bubber about the weird dreams she's been having.
  • She confesses that she keeps secrets because some things are too special to talk about, but she does tell Bubber that she'd give anything for a piano.
  • When they arrive home, Mick argues with her older sisters, Etta and Hazel. Then she goes to her brother Bill's room, where she has a box of secret stuff.
  • In the box are some paintings Mick made in a government-sponsored art class for poor kids. Her art all has very morbid themes: one features a ship sinking, another depicts a fire, and third one shows a riot. (Mick may have been using that class as art therapy.)
  • Also inside the box are the pieces of the violin that Mick is trying to make, although Mick realizes that her violin is pathetic and won't ever work.
  • Bill tells her he knew if wouldn't work, but he thought she ought to figure it out for herself. This doesn't go over well with Mick, who gets angry at him and storms out.
  • She brushes past her mom quickly and stomps into the kitchen where Portia, the family's black cook, is feeding the younger Kelly boys.
  • Portia starts lecturing Mick for behaving like a punk.
  • Actually, Portia provides us with some helpful exposition and explains that she's Willie's sister and that her father is the black doctor that Jake tried to haul into the New York Café the night before.
  • "Mick had heard Portia say that [her father was a doctor] before, but she had thought it was a tale. How could a colored man be a doctor?" (1.3.100)
  • A little more info on Portia: her husband's name is Highboy and her mother left her father when she was ten years old, at which point the family went to live on her grandpa's farm.
  • She thinks that Mick and her dad have a lot in common, which Mick thinks is ridiculous.
  • Portia says that they are both stubborn and have problems relating to other people. According to Portia, their problems stem from not loving others or loving God.
  • Mick stomps out yet again – she's turning that into her signature move.
  • She wanders around and thinks about how everyone's awful, how she wants to be alone (channeling Greta Garbo apparently), how she just wants music and love.
  • She also thinks that she'll go see Mr. Singer sometime – after all, he seems interesting.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...