The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers – Theme of Loneliness


The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is a war-ravaged novel written by Carson McCullers. This twentieth century novel focuses on different themes of isolation, loneliness, and hopefulness. The entire plot revolves around the protagonist, John Singer, who is a deaf-and-mute person. He is characterized as a lonely person living isolated both emotionally and physically throughout the novel.

John seems to be very mute to others, despite his longing for communication. The only person whom he communicates is his mute friend Antonapoulos. He is deeply attached to him other than anyone else. He used to share with him his feelings, but after he leaves, John becomes a loner. However, the other characters in the novel seek solace with him for getting a relief from their problems.

Singer is distinct and significant to many other characters. Despite his own loneliness, he provides a sense of relief to others, unknowingly. However, Singer’s personality is desperately passive and socially withdrawn. Though his co-characters find a solace when spending time with him, he himself feels pressured by their actions. But for others, John is just a sounding board at whom they speak their thoughts without being judgmental. His passive nature makes them think being accepted by the other. However, they do not realize that he is unable to express and he himself is a troubled man inside.

The only friendship that Singer has is with his other mate, Mick Kelly. Mick is a passionate teenager, who loves music. She finds herself reluctant to communicate with anyone. John acts as a comforting partner and confidante to Mick. Even though he fights with his own isolations in life, he gives Mick the needed solace. He turns to Mick for everything and projects his own insecurities and needs only to her. She too understands John’s passiveness to be kindness and forgets to empathy with his feelings. She is deeply attracted to Singer, but the relationship does not last longer, as she finds her path in life. After Mick leaves him, he refrains to an aloof lifestyle. After her, he finds it hard to connect with anyone in a society. He sees that the society is totally antagonistic to a deaf-and-mute person, without emphasizing their feelings.

The theme of loneliness is evident throughout the novel. Singer never changes or expresses his feelings to anyone. He never ever learns to communicate properly with his co-characters. Even after meeting new acquaintances after his best friend’s death, he lives in loneliness. This lack of communication in John makes his life a lonely tragedy.


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