The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter | Study Guide

Carson McCullers

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Course Hero, "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter Study Guide," July 14, 2017, accessed July 22, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Heart-Is-a-Lonely-Hunter/.

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter | Part 2, Chapter 12 | Summary

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Summary

This chapter focuses on Blount, who has been going downhill physically and mentally. He suffers from headaches in the hot spring weather, is haunted by a recurring nightmare, and has several run-ins with a maniacal preacher named Simms. The people who come to the Sunny Dixie Show also seem restless, and he often has to break up fights.

Blount continues to try to convince people that his radical ideas about labor rights are good, but people just keep laughing at him. He drinks more and more and continues to think it is "the loneliest town of all." He only stays in town because of Singer.

Blount learns from Singer what happened to Willie, and he asks the deaf-mute to take him to see the Copelands. Singer promises to do it that night.

Analysis

This chapter is, more than anything, a portrait of the unraveling of a character. Whether he's drinking or on the wagon, Blount is spiraling downward. The insight Dr. Copeland had when they bumped into each other on the stairs—that Blount is a mentally ill man—is undeniable at this point. His dreams meld into his times of wakefulness. Everything tortures him, from his throbbing head to his itching body to the negative comments he hears his fellow workers make about him. When it all becomes too much, he shouts and hollers and says he'll take on anyone who wants to fight him.

It is significant, nonetheless, that Singer remains a constant in Blount's life. Singer's silence, his inability to talk back to Blount, somehow calms Blount in a way that no amount of arguing ever could. In addition Singer is Blount's anchor to reality in town, notably regarding Willie's maiming in prison. It speaks volumes for Blount that he is upset by Willie's situation, too, suggesting that he is not entirely lost.

There are ominous signs that as spring turns into summer and the weather gets hotter, more bad things are going to happen in Blount's life. Violence is in the air, and the unstable Blount will surely not shy away from it.

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