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Themes

While <em>The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter</em> isn't exactly brimming with sex scenes, sexuality and sexual politics are strong undercurrents throughout the novel. We have Copeland's past domestic violence, Mick's blooming sexuality, and most notably, the curious case of Biff Brannon. Sexuality provokes fear in our characters, in addition to desire. They move back and forth between embracing and giving into their sexuality and being ashamed of it.

Questions About Sexuality and Sexual Identity

  1. How is Biff's sexual identity confused and conflicted?
  2. What are some of the key symbols of Mick's emerging sexual maturity?
  3. What is the thematic role of Mick's first sexual experience in the novel?
  4. Mick is pretty much the only really sexualized character in the novel – is this a comment on her age or her gender in any way?
  5. Do any of the novel's secondary characters emphasize the theme of sexual identity?

Chew on This

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

Sexual identity is constantly in flux in the novel, for all the characters.

Sexuality is an incidental or relatively minor detail for the majority of the main characters in the novel.

Mick's first sexual experience is part of her larger story of growing up.

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