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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter | Study Guide

Carson McCullers

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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter | Part 1, Chapter 6 | Summary



This chapter opens in midsummer. Singer's room has become a popular place for people to visit. He welcomes his guests to the pleasant, cool room with cold beer and fruit drinks and a smile. His regular visitors are Mick and Blount, but Dr. Copeland and Biff also stop by on occasion. Singer treats each person with the same quiet respect. If no visitors come, Singer enjoys going to the movies.

But in July Singer suddenly disappears. He has gone to spend his summer vacation visiting Antonapoulos. He brings his friend nice gifts, but since there is no food included, Antonapoulos dumps them "disdainfully on his bed." During this first visit Singer feels his "old feeling of gaiety and bliss" as he talks and talks to his friend with his hands. Antonapoulos watches, but he does not seem particularly interested.

Singer is only allowed to visit on Thursday and Sunday, but he soon gains permission to take Antonapoulos on an excursion to the country. Then they have dinner at Singer's hotel, which Antonapoulos enjoys greatly. But the time is ruined when he refuses to leave and Singer resorts to bribing him back into the taxicab with a bottle of whiskey. When Singer then throws the bottle out the window, Antonapoulos weeps with anger. Singer's last visit with his friend goes well, but Singer feels desperate as the time when he must leave approaches.

Back in his room at the boarding house, Singer continues to have his guests. He does not answer any questions about his absence, but he listens to whatever they want to tell him.


In contrast to how "thoughtful and composed" Singer is when listening to his guests—his eyes "grave as a sorcerer's"—when he is talking with Antonapoulos he is in a feverish state of excitement. Antonapoulos is the passive recipient of Singer's thoughts and feelings, the same way Singer is when his visitors talk to him. Ye, Antonapoulos is not passive; he is vain and self-centered and disinterested in Singer except as someone who brings him gifts. This hearkens back to the repeated theme of the unreliability of communication as a two-way street. Singer's visitors have complete faith that he will "always understand whatever they wanted to say to him," just as Singer seems sure Antonapoulos understands and cares about what he shares with him. The truth is that neither he nor Antonapoulos probably understand much; it is simply the ability to tell someone about their cares and concerns that matters to the speaker, and this act helps to assuage the loneliness of the human condition.

This chapter makes clear how much Singer's visitors have come to rely on him. When he leaves without explanation his usual visitors feel bereft without him and upset that he will not explain his whereabouts. They feel a sense of ownership over him that he doesn't understand or care to accept. It is also worth noting Singer's liveliness when visiting his friend. This suggests that no number of confidants will replace Antonapoulos, and it is worth considering how this amplifies Singer's loneliness and the feeling of isolation throughout the town.

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