The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter | Study Guide

Carson McCullers

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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter | Part 1, Chapter 4 | Summary

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Summary

As Mick sits on the steps just below Singer's room, Blount slowly comes to consciousness. He does not know where he is, but he does recognize Singer. He is very thirsty, and after Singer gives him four glasses of cold water he begins to piece together his memories. When he speaks to Singer and the deaf-mute only smiles, he wonders again why he is so quiet. Singer finally hands him a card that identifies him as a deaf-mute.

The two men drink coffee and eat together, and Blount decides he will go walk around and look for a job. Singer offers him a mattress on the floor until he can find his own place to stay, but Blount declines the offer, claiming, "I already got a place." When he leaves the boarding house, he spies Mick on the banisters and asks her to show him a garbage can where he can deposit the filthy overalls. She leads him to the backyard, where Portia's husband, Highboy, and her brother, Willie, are waiting for her. Then Mick directs Blount to Main Street. Feeling lonely, he follows Portia and the men so that he can hear them talking and have a sense of human connection.

On Main Street Blount buys a paper at Charles Parker's fruit store and finds an interesting advertisement: "Wanted—Experienced Mechanic. Sunny Dixie Show. Apply Corner Weavers Lane & 15th Street." He goes into the New York Café to see Biff and find out how much he owes. Biff calculates it to be about 20 dollars, and Blount says he will pay it over time. Then he asks Biff some general questions about the town, shows him the ad he has found, and asks for directions to the location.

The manager of the Sunny Dixie Show is named Patterson. He asks Blount a few questions, describes the job, and shows him the equipment, and then they agree Blount will start the following afternoon at 12 dollars a week.

When he leaves Blount wanders in the nearby neighborhoods, feeling light-headed and lonely. When he sees three men sitting on the front steps of a house, he sits down to talk to them. "I got the Gospel in me...I want to tell it to somebody," he says. Blount's gospel is not about religion, however; it is about how workers like these men should be angry at the rich men who employ them and keep them down. The men only laugh at his ideas, so Blount moves on. He goes back to Charles Parker's store and buys a basket of fruit. He takes it to Singer's room as a present. Singer welcomes him, and Blount is glad the deaf-mute will listen to him without laughing at his ideas. The men eat fruit and drink wine, and then Blount goes to sleep on a mattress Singer puts on the floor.

Analysis

As lonely as all the characters are in the novel, based on this chapter Blount might be viewed as the loneliest. He seems acutely aware of loneliness as a problem. Early in the chapter, Blount expresses worry that Singer does not have other deaf-mutes in the town to be with: "Find it lonesome?" A few pages later he follows Portia and the men closely "because he felt lonely in the unfamiliar town." Then, a few paragraphs later: "The town seemed more lonesome than any place he had ever known." After he secures the position at the Sunny Dixie Show, Blount has the strong desire to go see Singer: "It was a queer thing to want to talk with a deaf-mute. But he was lonesome."

It is not only Blount's loneliness that makes him something of a tragic character. He also has a rage against society that makes him want "to go berserk...get out and fight violently with someone in a crowded street." Like Mick, who draws pictures of violent scenes without knowing why, Blount's trouble relating to people and getting them to pay attention to him fills him with anger. Also like Mick, he is highly intelligent. He learned about Marxism from heavy reading and is motivated to change the capitalist world that tramples on men like him. Yet, curiously, he never connects with Mick as a confidant. The characters of this town circle one another, never fully connecting except with Singer.

It is not by coincidence that Blount gets fruit to take to Singer from Charles Parker, Antonapoulos's cousin. Antonapoulos loves fruit—when Singer visits him in the asylum he will always bring gifts of fruit. In many ways, Blount is like Antonapoulos, and this is why Singer is willing to take him in. Like Antonapoulos, Blount is vain and narcissistic, noticing that Singer is mute only after Singer shows him his card. At first Singer seems upset by the fruit, but once he figures out the connection for himself he smiles.

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