The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

I probably should have seen this coming in some ways, I’ve never really enjoyed most of the books I’ve been required to read for English classes, and this one isn’t much of an exception.  Parts of this book weren’t bad, but then other parts of the book were extremely irritating and made me wonder why they were in the book at all.  Anyway, here we go, the review for The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers.

Book Info

359 pages (paperback)

Stand alone book



The book follows 5 different characters, John Singer (a deaf-mute), Biff Brannon (a restaurant owner), Mick Kelly (a young girl), Jake Blount (a drunk) and Benedict Mady Copeland (a doctor).  The book somewhat revolves around Singer who in most cases serves as nothing more than a central hub for the other characters to interact with.  The other characters are all off living their separate lives, rarely interacting with each other, but they all come to confide in Singer, who they all think of as a very intelligent person who understands their viewpoints.  Singer in reality is a fairly simple man who wants nothing more than to see his friend Spiros Antonapoulos who goes insane and is taken to an asylum/hospital early in the book.  As for the other characters, Biff is a man who simply takes life as it comes, and he tends to focus more on the past than anything currently going on, he is a very stoic character, and was very annoying to read.  Mick is the only optimistic character of the group in the book, and while her sections were probably the easiest to get through, she also doesn’t change in her personality very much.  Jake is a person who believes that he has a great overall truth and in trying to express his truth moves from town to town.  And Copeland is a black doctor who is working to improve living conditions for blacks in the South.


The book is set in a small town in the Southeastern U.S.  Although I don’t believe we are ever told the name of the town in the book, it really isn’t important to the story.


This is where I think the book falls flat, there really isn’t much of an overall plot to this book.  Essentially we are shown a group of people who all are struggling to get through life’s ups and downs, but that’s all that this really is, a snapshot of life in the southern U.S. in the late 1930’s.  I didn’t really get much character growth throughout the story, but each person just goes about their life, dealing with the obstacles that come up.


Parts of this book were interesting, and parts were absolutely horrid to me.  Although the book somewhat centers on Singer, I  actually don’t know what purpose he served in the book other than a way for the author to get the characters to talk to him so that we can hear their thoughts while in a conversational form rather than just them thinking about it.  It also seems that several of the characters were in the book simply to talk about the evils of fascism and how a more Marxist ideal of socialism and everybody getting what they need are better than the current system.  There were several times when I became irritated with the book and probably would have put it down if I hadn’t been reading it for my class.

The book also suffers from some questionable editing to me, for example, I quickly got sick of reading about a character who “lighted up a cigarette.”  If it’s within someone’s dialect, sure say ‘lighted,’ but if it’s in the narrative, please say ‘lit.’  There was also a huge difference between the speech of Copeland and his daughter Portia.  Copeland’s speech is almost too perfect for everyday use, whereas Portia’s speech is shown to be a very southern dialect.  This difference between them irritated me greatly.

Overall Grade

The book wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be based upon the first third of the book, but it wasn’t all that great either.  I read books for an escape from everyday life, not to see how a group of characters that I never identified with get through everyday life.


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