Hopelessness in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
Carson McCuller's novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, takes place in a small town in the deep south during the mid-twentieth century. The book closely follows a diverse group of five residents that are loosely tied together. They include Singer, a deaf mute, Benedict Copeland, a well educated black doctor, Jake Blount, a politically zealous transient, Mick Kelly, a young girl, and Biff Brannon, a middle aged man that owns a diner. As the book progresses the characters find themselves in non-ideal circumstances. The characters all want something they can't have and it gradually becomes clear that they are powerless to obtain it. The outlook continues to grow bleak for the characters as time passes. By the end of the novel the characters that are still alive find themselves with little hope and no happiness. Hopelessness is an overriding theme and can be seen more clearly by examining each characters situation.
All of the characters have loose ties to one another, but where all there paths seem to intertwine most is in their relationship with Singer, the deaf mute. The other four main characters all begin to confide in singer early in the story, and believe that he is the only one that truly understands them. Singer is a very kind person, and is always there for his new found friends. However, what Singer really longs for is his former companion, Antonapoulos. Antonapoulos means the world to Singer, but they are separated when Antonapoulos is sent to live in an asylum. Antonapoulos is a very crude character in this book. All he seems to care about is self gratification through food, drink and whatever else pleases him. While Singer demonstrates a very deep and real love for him, Antonapoulos clearly is more or less indifferent. This is strikingly ironic considering that as a result of Antonapoulos' departure from the town, Singer becomes seriously depressed. He feels hopeless and alone without his friend, and there is nothing he can do to change his circumstances. The companionship he gains from the other characters does little to take away from the longing he has for Antonapoulos. His hopelessness and despair peaks when Antonapoulos dies. As a result, Singer takes his own life. Singer's death hits all of the other characters very hard. He was a rock for all of them, and when he dies they all slip further into hopelessness.
Dr. Copeland spent his entire life trying to enlighten others, especially members of his own race. The book says, "He always knew he was meant to teach his people" (mccullers, 74). He tries to educate his children about justice and equality, but to his disappointment they don't even speak in an intelligent way. As hard as he tries, no one seems to heed his words of wisdom. Dr. Copeland is not a religious man, and this appears to hinder his ability to relate to the local black community. While he is highly respected, the people will dismiss anything he says that contradicts...