The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter | Study Guide

Carson McCullers

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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter | Part 2, Chapter 9 | Summary

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Summary

Mick did not show up at the café in Chapter 8, but Chapter 9 has her front and center. She detests the increased poverty her family is enduring after Baby was shot. She has no lunch money at all, so her music lessons have ended, which is worse than being hungry. However, all of these worries are in "the outside room," and her "inside room" of music and plans is thriving more than ever. Singer is in her inside room; he is the only person allowed there, and she thinks of him constantly.

Mick has also developed a good friendship with Harry. Now that he works at the café, they are able to talk about people they know there, like Biff and Blount. Mick says she hates Biff; Harry likes to hear Blount's ideas. They also talk about big ideas like fascism, the advantages boys have over girls, and their career plans. One day Mick gets a sudden urge to physically interact with Harry and gives him a shove. Soon they are engaging in wild horseplay that shifts to a very different feeling of girl-boy attraction. That night, Mick is restless and has trouble concentrating on her musical notations.

Analysis

Most people don't understand Mick, which is why she latches on so much to Singer. Although he probably doesn't understand her either, she believes he does. It gives her confidence to pursue her unique goals, which is why she puts him in her "inside room" with all she holds dear.

In many ways Mick acts more like an adult than many of the grown-ups in the novel. She has a surprising amount of independence and responsibility. Although she is just starting to develop stirrings of sexuality, she instinctively knows something is wrong with the way Biff talks to her and treats her.

Yet Mick also struggles with her family's poverty, as it crushes her ability to use her lunch money for music lessons. Mick is stuck in an unfulfilling loop, and this condition is only going to get worse.

Harry and Mick's maturity comes through again in this chapter, as they discuss advanced ideas about gender dynamics, the rise of fascism, and dream beyond the confines of the town. It is little wonder that they would discover they are attracted to one another, yet this is a complicated revelation, not least because none of the adults show any inclination to reflect on these issues. Is Mick ready for sex, the next step toward adulthood?

The most positive thing about what is happening for Mick at this time in her life is that she is excited by her dreams. Mick has hope, and this sharply contrasts with the doom and gloom of Blount and Dr. Copeland and the aura of sadness surrounding many others.

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