The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

Coming of Age in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter College

The term “coming of age” is identified with many concepts of growing up: loss of innocence, solidification of an identity that adulthood is based upon, and conforming to society to one degree or another. These concepts are tied to various “rites of passage”, including a first sexual experience, a first truly serious event, a first job, etc. The passage into adulthood is traced in Carson McCullers’s novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, through the siblings Mick and George “Bubber” Kelly. Mick’s journey from childhood to adulthood is traced as she undergoes staggered events that will shape her identity as an adult. Bubber, on the other hand, is still a child until an accident with his BB gun sparks his movement into adulthood within hours. Both characters speak to every person’s desire for the freedom to create their own identity, a desire that is universal in the book and to the audience.

The most obvious examples of Mick and Bubber’s “sparking” into adulthood are directly tied to their losses of innocence, each because of a direct encounter with the idea of death. Mick experiences multiple rites of adulthood throughout the book, but none is more traumatic than finding the body of John Singer, whom she had idolized as a dearest...

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