The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter | Study Guide

Carson McCullers

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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter | Part 2, Chapter 15 | Summary

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Summary

The final chapter of Part 2 centers on Singer. It is time for his vacation, which means he is happily preparing for a trip to see Antonapoulos. As always he has many gifts for his friend. On the long train ride he thinks about the people he is leaving behind in the town, people trying to tell him things "he did not understand in the least." When he sleeps the town is forgotten as he turns his thoughts solely to Antonapoulos and pictures how wonderful their reunion will be, his eagerness "so keen that his nose was too pinched to breathe through and his cheeks were scarlet."

On July 18 at three in the afternoon, the hour when visitors are allowed at the asylum, Singer goes to the infirmary. Antonapoulos is not there, so he goes to the office to inquire about his friend. The answer is shocking and final: Antonapoulos is dead. Singer goes back to the hotel, where he throws a fit when the slot machine takes his coin. He packs his bags, stealing from the room "three towels, two cakes of soap, a pen and a bottle of ink, a roll of toilet paper, and a Holy Bible." He stores his belongings so he can walk around the town until the train leaves at nine.

He wanders listlessly through the streets until he comes upon an amazing sight: three deaf-mutes talking together with their hands in a bar. Excited, he goes in to talk to them. However, he soon realizes he has nothing to say and becomes "so listless and cold that the three mutes...left him out of the conversation."

Singer barely makes it to the train station on time. He travels "in a stupor of half-sleep for about twelve hours." He leaves his luggage at the train station, walks to the jewelry store, and goes to his room, where he shoots himself in the chest.

Analysis

Readers may not be surprised by Singer's suicide. McCullers has used some foreshadowing to warn of it. In his musings after Alice's death, Biff wonders why more people who feel true love don't kill themselves when their loved one dies. In the letter Singer writes to Antonapoulos, he states, "I am not meant to be alone and without you who understand." No matter how delusional Singer has been about his friend, he does truly love him and does not know how to communicate with others. Even when given the chance to talk to the three deaf-mutes, he finds he cannot. So what does he have to live for?

One of the most interesting parts of the chapter is how Singer takes on Antonapoulos's negative traits after hearing of his death. He is descending into his own mental illness and might also be trying to hold on to the very last piece of his friend that he can by mimicking his behaviors—throwing an unwarranted temper tantrum and stealing things from the hotel.

This chapter also drives home that no matter how much the rest of the town came to depend on Singer, he always had his sights on his friend. Singer never fully loved or understood those who came to him for advice. As he muses on the train ride to see Antonapoulos, he is "hopelessly confused" by the feud between Blount and Dr. Copeland, does not understand Mick "in the least," and sees only "unexplainable reasons" for all of the strangers who approach him to be interested in speaking to him.

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