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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 2, Chapter 14 | Summary



This chapter focuses on Mick. Her mind has been so full of worry and a "terrible afraidness" since that last day with Harry that she can no longer go into her "inside room." Desperate to have something back from that world, she has taken to following Singer around without his knowing. She has to stay busy every second to keep her fears at bay. Her fears are not of being pregnant—she has written Harry "O.K." and hardly even thinks of him—but are based on some general unease about the future and the feeling that what she and Harry did was very wrong.

Meanwhile, things are worse than ever financially for the Kellys. Etta has lost her job, and Mr. Kelly is having no luck with his watch repair business.

As the school year ends and summer rolls on, Mick is finally able to concentrate on her music again. But the panic remains just under the surface and she feels "as though in some way she was waiting—but what she waited for she did not know." In June Hazel announces she has learned of a job opening at Woolworths. Mick's parents say they cannot think of letting Mick take the job, but Mick feels a new sense of excitement and says she wants to apply. Although the money would help the family a great deal, Mick's parents continue to resist the idea. But in the end, Mick gets hired and will start work on the fifth of June. Although at first she views it as just a summer job, she knows she will most likely drop out of school and keep working.


In the inevitable process of leaving childhood, Mick, like everyone else, has to let go of her dreams. She does not seem too upset about Harry leaving, and the fact that she is not pregnant is a small but important relief in her life. But her inside world disappears, and the outside world takes over. Her attempts to hold on to what she loves only work as long as they are concrete—like the music she writes down. But her fantasies of fame and world travel are gone, and whether they were ever attainable is left in doubt. Her reality is that she will work at a ten-cent store as a clerk as long as her family needs the money. She might get her own radio out of the deal, but not a piano or a violin. Meanwhile, Baby—the reason for the Kellys' terrible financial mess—gets all the lessons she wants, despite having become a horrible brat who regularly makes her mother cry. Life seems unfair at best, but "that was the way things were." Only when Singer nods at her to say taking the job is a good thing is she able to bear it.

Singer's presence in this chapter serves to ameliorate Mick's negative feelings. To Mick, he has appeared godlike since he arrived, and he calms her and keeps her hope alive. "Mister Singer" she says over and over in her mind, loving him "better than anyone in the family." His approval of her actions somehow makes things all right.

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