The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis
Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.
Plot Type : Tragedy
In our first stage, all the main characters meet Singer and begin to bond with him. Anticipation, indeed: how is this all going to play out?
As the plot moves along, everyone develops a deeper relationship with Singer and starts to confide in him. Singer seems to inspire something in these people, because they all start thinking about their dreams: Mick explores music, Biff explores his feminine side, Jake explores politics, and Doctor Copeland continues on with his social quest. Singer, meanwhile, writes and visits his friend Antonapoulos and is somewhat comforted, albeit confused, by his four new companions.
Things get increasingly dicey for our cast as everyone struggles with loneliness and worries: looks like those dreams won't be so easy to fulfill. Frustrations abound, but they're particularly poignant for Mick and Copeland: Mick's crazy adolescent years get even crazier after her brother accidentally shoots Baby; and Copeland's life has an increasingly dark cloud over it after his son is throw in jail.
Willie loses both his feet in jail after being hung upside down for three days in a freezing cold shed. How's that for a nightmare? After this, everyone's lives start spiraling out of control: Mick's childhood ends when she loses her virginity and drops out of school to take a job; Copeland nearly has a breakdown over his son, and his health worsens; Jake grows increasingly frustrated and isolated in his politics; Biff deals with increased confusion and longing; and Singer's loneliness starts to get the best of him.
Here we've got an actual death when Singer commits suicide. And as if this weren't enough, all of the other characters are left to face some major changes on their own.