The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter Themes

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter Themes


At the center of the novel’s them of alienation is the unique utilization of a handicap to communication suffered by two characters. Spiros Antonapoulos and John Singer have both been disabled from everyday discourse with those around them as a result of being mute. The inability to talk it by definition creates a certain sense of alienation from a world that is dependent upon language as its primary means of connection. Alienation usually signifies a coincident sense of isolation, but McCullers explores the way certain individuals are alienated even when engaging in discourse with others and even when surrounding by society.

The Educated Outcast

Education tends to scare some and make others suspicious. Usually, this results from ignorance and feelings of inferiority, but the desire to cast out someone from their expected role in society is often stimulated by a fear that education will reveal their own history of duplicity. This thematic concern is centered in the character of Dr. Copeland. As an educated black man he is viewed with suspicion by white society, but is also an outcast among his minority community.

Work as Purpose

Though he may be an outcast, Dr. Copeland has found a purpose in life. Again, Spiros and John Singer are the thematic center of this element of the novel despite it extending outward to embrace almost everyone. Especially, to a point, Mick. But it is in the way that Spiros remains unrooted and ungrounded in comparison to John’s focus and intensity resulting from his job as an engraver that really delineates the all-encompassing significance of the way a work ethic inspired a purposeful dedication to living.

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