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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter | Study Guide

Carson McCullers

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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter | Characters

Character Description
John Singer John Singer is a deaf-mute who finds himself suddenly without his best friend of 10 years when Spiros Antonapoulos is sent to an insane asylum. He then becomes important to many people in town, a godlike figure. Read More
Mick Kelly Around age 12 at the time the novel opens, Mick Kelly is a loner even though she lives in a crowded house as a member of a large family. She is tall for her age and different from her peers; she escapes into the world of music to find herself. Read More
Biff Brannon Biff Brannon is the owner of the New York Café. He is a fine observer and accurate assessor of the many people who enter his establishment every day. He is in an unhappy marriage at the beginning of the novel, but when his wife dies he is able to live a somewhat happier life. Read More
Dr. Copeland Dr. Copeland is a brooding man focused only on what he views as his mission in life: getting African Americans to improve their condition. He loses his wife and, to a great extent, his children because they neither share his Marxist beliefs nor conform to his rules of "proper" behavior in order to lift themselves up. Read More
Jake Blount Jake Blount is a wanderer who restricts his roaming to the South because he believes he can save it through his radical beliefs about labor reform. He is mentally ill and violent, and his constant drinking feeds both of these problems. Read More
Miss Anglin Miss Anglin is the seventh-grade teacher Mick really likes.
Spiros Antonapoulos The obese Greek deaf-mute named Spiros Antonapoulos is John Singer's best friend who lived with him for 10 years. His personality is the opposite of Singer's, and when he becomes mentally ill his cousin commits him to an insane asylum where he dies the following year, causing Singer to commit suicide.
Bill The oldest child in the Kelly family, Bill Kelly used to be close to Mick, but is not anymore. He is out of high school and has huge feet and a studious, reserved air about him.
Boy at prison A third boy is friends with Willie and Buster in prison and suffers torture with them but does not get gangrene.
Alice Brannon Alice Brannon is Biff's wife and she helps him run the café, but by the time of the story their marriage has become difficult and he is critical of her lack of kindness and curiosity. Alice suddenly dies of a brain tumor about halfway through the novel.
Miss Brown Miss Brown is one of the Kelly's boarders. She has a radio, and Mick loves to listen to the shows she plays on it on Sunday afternoons.
Delores Brown Delores Brown goes to school with Mick and is the first girl to have her prom card filled up at Mick's party. Mick pays Delores to give her music lessons.
Buck Buck is a boy at school Mick really wishes she could be friends with but never has the nerve to talk to.
Buddy Karl Marx, called Buddy by everyone but his father, is one of the three sons of Dr. Copeland and Daisy. He has moved away to Mobile, Alabama and keeps his distance from his father, but Portia describes him as having a sweet way with people.
Cab driver When Singer gets permission to take Antonapoulos out of the asylum for an outing, he has to solicit the help of the cab driver to get his friend to leave the restaurant. The driver wants to use force, but Singer bribes Antonapoulos with liquor instead.
Carl Carl is a mute who enjoys a brief friendship with Singer and Antonapoulos—until Antonapoulos rudely and falsely accuses him of drinking all of his gin.
Celeste Celeste is a student in Mick's sixth-grade class. Mick longs to be her best friend but never has the nerve to speak to her.
Celia Celia is the young girl who comes to Portia's with Grandpapa and others for a visit.
Miss Clara Miss Clara does not appear in the novel, but Blount tells Singer how influential she was in his life. Miss Clara, a Texas farmer, introduced Blount to the theories of socialism about which he has become fanatical.
Colored boy In a fight Blount has to break up at the Sunny Dixie Show, a young man only identified as a "colored boy" speaks up to defend an African American girl. The dispute begins between her and a white girl whom she accuses of stealing her ticket when she drops it.
Mr. Copeland Mr. Copeland, the doctor's father, was a preacher. With his wife, he worked hard to save enough money to give his son a good start in life.
Mrs. Copeland Mrs. Copeland, the doctor's mother, is dead at the time of the novel, but her son thinks of her. She was born into slavery but became a washerwoman after gaining her freedom.
Daisy Daisy is the onetime wife of Dr. Copeland and the mother of their four children. She is described as light skinned and willful, as her ideas conflict with the doctor's. She leaves Dr. Copeland and flees to Grandpapa's farm with the four children.
Lancy Davis Lancy Davis wins the award for his essay at Dr. Copeland's Christmas party. However, he has been emotionally troubled for many years and hates white people; at the end of the novel he is one of the two people killed in the big fight at the Sunny Dixie Show.
Lucy Davis Lucy Davis is Lancy's mother and works as a washerwoman.
Dead boy At the end of the big fight Blount joins in on at the Sunny Dixie Show, Blount finds himself on top of a dead boy. The young African American looks familiar to him; it is most likely Lancy Davis.
Doctor The doctor who tends to Antonapoulos when he suffers a terrible stomach ailment puts him on a strict, alcohol-free diet, which he hates.
Etta Etta, the middle girl in the Kelly family, is obsessed with getting into the movies, even though she is not pretty. Toward the end of the novel she becomes very sick with a diseased ovary, and the family can't afford the surgery she needs.
Fight leader The young man who picks the fight leading to the huge brawl at the Sunny Dixie Show is the leader of a gang of young white men who dress in white trousers and fancy polo shirts.
George George, called "Bubber" at the beginning of the novel, is seven years old and a very good child overall. But when he accidentally shoots Baby Wilson, his personality changes and people start calling him George, his given name.
Grandpapa Grandpapa is the father of Daisy Copeland, and his farm is where she flees with the four children when she leaves Dr. Copeland. Grandpapa is deeply religious and believes when people of color die they become white and go to heaven.
Hamilton Hamilton Copeland is one of the three Copeland sons. He remains with Grandpapa on the farm as an adult, after Daisy takes all of the children there when she leaves Dr. Copeland. By the time of the story, he is pretty much running the farm.
Hazel Hazel is the oldest Kelly daughter, 18 at the time of the novel, and quite beautiful. However, she is lazy and not very smart.
Highboy Highboy is Portia's husband and he lives happily with her and Willie until Willie goes to prison. Highboy is "part Indian" and a good Christian, and he works hard to pay the rent on the home the three of them share.
Hunchback girl A white girl with a hunchback is accused of stealing an African American girl's ticket to the Sunny Dixie Show when she drops it. This starts a fight that Blount has to break up.
Interne An interne at the insane asylum leads a distraught Singer to the correct office when Singer cannot find Antonapoulos, who has been moved to the infirmary.
Buster Johnson Buster Johnson is a friend of Willie's who ends up in the same prison and suffers the same torture there. Buster loses one foot to gangrene as a result.
Love Jones Love is the ugly sister of Raymond Jones who likes to play horseshoes with the boys. She is the girl Willie and Junebug fight over. Willie goes to prison for cutting Junebug's throat.
Raymond Jones Raymond Jones is friends with Highboy and Willie; they like to play horseshoes with him in his backyard.
Junebug Junebug is a mean young man who fights with Willie over Love Jones. Willie cuts his throat with a knife and goes to prison, but Junebug survives the injury.
Mr. Kelly Mr. Kelly has had to stop working in the construction business due to a broken hip, which has caused financial troubles for the family. He is trying to earn money by repairing watches, but it isn't going well and he mostly feels alone and unneeded.
Mrs. Kelly Mrs. Kelly seems distracted from her roles as mother and wife, only making brief appearances in the novel. She does seem to really love her family, however.
Augustus Benedict Mady Lewis Augustus Benedict Mady Lewis is a five-year-old deaf-mute named for Dr. Copeland. Dr. Copeland is trying to help him have a good life, and Singer gives him advice about what to do.
Loose-jointed man In the group of three men Blount first approaches with his message, one is described only as "tall and loose-jointed." The man informs Blount he was one of the people who got hired during a strike.
Louis Louis is the young African American man who takes Willie's position at the New York Café after Willie is arrested. Louis brings coffee to Biff's room every morning but is often found sleeping during the night.
Lurie Lurie is the African American girl who accuses the hunchback girl of stealing her ticket at the Sunny Dixie Show. Her accusation causes a fight that Blount must break up.
Man with chocolate When Blount goes to apply for the job at the Sunny Dixie Show, an African American man only described as drowsy and holding a bag of melted chocolate tells him where to find the owner and that he has red hair.
Man with knife At the start of the huge brawl at the Sunny Dixie Show near the end of the novel, Blount sees an African American man holding a knife. He jumps on the man to try to wrestle the knife away from him, but after their tussle the fight becomes a brawl.
Man with sore on mouth In the group of three men Blount first approaches with his message, one is described only as small and having a sore on his mouth. He scoffs at Blount from the beginning, but describes the one labor strike the town has seen.
Man with straw hat In the group of three men Blount first approaches with his message, one is described only as having a straw hat. He doesn't engage much with Blount beyond saying that most people in town are able to work most of the time.
Mary Mary is a girl who comes to Mick's party and is the second one to have her prom card completely filled in.
B.F. Mason B.F. Mason is a con man who comes into town and convinces people he represents the government pension fund and can help people turn twenty-five cents a week now into fifty dollars every month at age forty-five. Mason ends up at the same prison as Willie.
Miss Minner Miss Minner is an English teacher at Vocational who is considered extremely smart but is also a sourpuss.
Harry Minowitz Harry Minowitz is a Jewish boy who hates fascists, lives next door to the Kellys, and is two years older than Mick. Mick loses her virginity to Harry, who then leaves town so his mother will not find out what he has done.
Mrs. Minowitz Mrs. Minowitz, Harry's single mother, works at a tailor shop and is very protective of her son.
Marshall Nicolls Marshall Nicolls, an African American pharmacist in town, gives a five-dollar award for the best essay written by a young African American, chosen by Dr. Copeland and announced at his annual Christmas party. He believes in making progress by working cooperatively within the system.
Operator 1 This ride operator, one of two at the Sunny Dixie Show, hates Blount for his beliefs and attitudes and calls him a "Red."
Operator 2 This ride operator, the second of two at the Sunny Dixie Show, thinks Blount is ridiculous and makes fun of his size and his ideas.
Clark Patterson Clark Patterson is the owner of the Sunny Dixie Show. He is described as a disgusting man who overeats and smokes marijuana all day.
Policeman On the last night of Blount's initial drinking binge upon arriving in town, a policeman brings him to the New York Café, where Biff agrees to let him stay. The policeman promises to check back when his shift ends, to be sure he doesn't need to take Blount to jail.
Portia Portia, the only daughter of the Copelands, is the only child who really tries to get along with her father, but she is much more like her mother than him and is not afraid to be honest with the doctor about the need for him to change. Portia runs the Kelly kitchen, is married to Highboy, and lives with her brother Willie as well, until he is sent to prison.
Ralph Kelly Ralph Kelly is the baby in the family and is well behaved overall.
John Roberts John Roberts is an African American postman in town. Like Nicolls, he believes in cooperating with the status quo to achieve progress.
Simms Simms is a fanatical preacher who tries to convert people on the streets of the town. Blount finds him particularly offensive, but Simms never gives up trying to convert him.
Spanish teacher The Spanish teacher at Vocational has been to Europe once and she impresses students with her stories—which are not entirely true.
Spareribs Spareribs is a 10-year-old kid in the Kelly neighborhood who has recently lost his father. His dad's loaded rifle is what Bubber accidentally shoots Baby with.
Mrs. Wells Mrs. Wells is a mom in the Kelly neighborhood who drives all the kids to school when it rains.
Pete Wells Pete Wells is a boy in the Kelly neighborhood who is one of the young kids who ruins Mick's big party.
Sucker Wells Sucker Wells, who is seven years old at the time of Mick's party, is the one Mick vents her anger on when the young kids ruin everything.
White guard A prejudiced, cruel white guard at the prison who picks on Willie, Buster, and their friend, leading to the terrible trouble they encounter there.
Dary White Dary White is a young boy who is in the same prison cell as Dr. Copeland after he is arrested for trying to get Willie help. White says the doctor removed his sister's tonsils the year before.
Whitman Whitman is the young boy who comes to Portia's with Grandpapa and others for a visit.
Willie Willie Copeland works in the New York Café and lives happily with his sister, Portia, and her husband until he is sent to prison for slitting a man's throat over a woman. After being tortured there, he loses his feet to gangrene. Of the three Copeland sons, he tries the hardest to get along with his father.
Baby Wilson Baby Wilson is about four years old at the time of the novel, but her mother is already convinced she will be a star and invests plenty of time and money in trying to achieve her stardom. When George accidentally shoots Baby, the Kelly family has to pay a lot of money for her medical expenses; Baby becomes even more spoiled after the accident.
Deputy Sheriff Wilson When Dr. Copeland goes to the courthouse to try to speak to a judge, Deputy Sheriff Wilson accuses the doctor of being drunk and then hits him before having him dragged off to jail.
Leroy Wilson Leroy Wilson, father of Baby and two-time husband of Lucile, is a no-good, cocky man who beats Lucile and brags about it. He is out of the picture at the time of the novel, but it is clear Lucile will always take him back.
Lucile Wilson Lucile, the sister of Alice Brannon, is an unhappy single mother who is trying to live her life through her young daughter. She spares no expense in trying to make Baby's "career" as a star a reality.
Young woman at asylum A young woman in an office at the insane asylum is able to tell a relieved Singer that Antonapoulos is in the infirmary because he is sick with nephritis.
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