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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 Part 2: Chapter 11 Summary

  • Mick starts having nightmares about Willie, and she has to sleep with George or on the sofa now.
  • Etta, meanwhile, is very sick and needs an operation – she has a "diseased ovary," which probably means she has an ovarian cyst. But the family can't afford her operation, so Mick's old room has been transformed into Etta's sickroom.
  • Mick picks a fight with her sisters and reverts to old form, stomping out with a box of her stuff.
  • Outside George, Sucker, and Spareribs are playing with the water hose. (Again, no reality TV back then.)
  • Mick goes to chat with Harry. They've been spending more and more time together recently.
  • It's very hot for March, so the two of them decide to go swimming the next day at a campsite that the Girl Scouts use.
  • So, the next day the two pack picnic lunches and ride some bikes to the creek. When they stop for drinks at a gas station, they start to get chocolate Nehi, but Mick decides to get a beer and Harry copies her.
  • When they finally arrive they get a bit shy changing into their swimsuits.
  • Mick doesn't know how to swim, so she makes up a story about how she was injured on a high-dive once and hasn't swum much since: "She meant to add on to the tale to make it sound more reasonable, but instead she just looked at Harry. His skin was light brown and the water made it shining" (2.11.78).
  • They play around and swim for a while, and Mick picks up the whole swimming thing pretty fast.
  • Then they get bold and decide to try skinny dipping. But once they see each other naked they feel super awkward (duh) and decide to get dressed and eat lunch instead.
  • Harry tells Mick that he thinks she's pretty (which, after just seeing her naked, might mean a bit more).
  • He suggests they lie down for a bit to rest before riding back, and the two of them talk in whispers and are slowly drawn to each other. Romance is a-brewing, it seems.
  • Now we jump ahead to Harry and Mick pushing their bikes slowly down the road – the two have had sex (!) and are now really confused. Well, that happened quickly.
  • Harry says they need to talk, but Mick is too unsettled to do much talking.
  • Harry says they should maybe get married since they've committed a sin. He feels responsible since Mick is younger than him. Mick's response? "No, I wasn't. I wasn't any kid. But now I wish I was, though" (2.11.115).
  • They both agree that they never want to get married to anyone.
  • Harry says that he'll leave town and get a job as a mechanic – he's scared his mom will know what he did if he stays.
  • He tells Mick to write him in a few weeks to let him know if she's okay. She doesn't understand what he means at first, so he explains that she needs to tell him if she's pregnant or not. Oh, got it.
  • When they arrive home, the two say goodbye and – just like that – Harry is gone.
  • Mick feels very strange back around her family, but no one notices that anything is wrong or different.
  • Eventually, Mrs. Minowitz calls to ask if Mick knows where Harry is. Mick says no, she doesn't know.

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