The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter gives us a panoramic view of the American South, even though we hardly ever leave the confines of one town. In fact, we get a view of all of Depression-era America in general, through historical details that are woven seamlessly into the novel's plot. The America of this novel is very particular to its era, which was rife with poverty, race struggles, and rapid change. So while the themes of the book may be universal, the novel is absolutely rooted in a specific time and place
Overall, this book doesn't have an optimistic view of America, a point highlighted by the bleak end most characters get in the book.
The America of this novel is a highly unequal and unjust place; the American dream is definitely not a reality for these lonely hunters.