The Heart of A Lonely Hunter
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A precursory overview of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers reveals a number of themes which, on the surface, appear to be important. Most notable among these are politics and religion.
- The novel, which is set in an impoverished town of the Deep South, makes innumerable references to man's struggle with the political forces that keep him in exile
- The need for religion to serve as a guiding principle in an individual's life
- The need for basic human contact
Although this theme may be overlooked-especially when placed in conjunction with all of the daily struggles encountered by individuals in this small town-it is the quintessential element that drives each of the major characters in the novel and is therefore the most important predication of the book.
Looking at the novel more critically, it is clear that it could be effectively argued that either politics or religion are indeed the central themes of the novel. McCullers makes numerous references about the sordid conditions that have become an integral part of the town in which her story is set. Critical analysis of McCullers' work shows that even others that have read the novel have made a direct comparison between what McCullers illustrates in her text versus her own living conditions at the time she wrote the novel. According to Carr, McCullers "viewed with distress the squalid conditions and pervading hopelessness among the people of the mill district" in her own hometown of Columbus, Georgia. Carr goes on to further note that McCullers "had become increasingly aware of what she considered the weaknesses of her country's capitalistic system". Arguably, political ideation does indeed permeate the work.
Further assessing the novel, it could also be effectively argued that religion or the search for a guiding principle is also a pervasive theme in McCullers' work. To illustrate this point one needs to consider the interrelationships between John Singer and the other main characters in the novel. Singer who has lost his best friend, and only other mute in the town, becomes God like in his existence to all of the other characters in the novel.