The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Carson McCullers: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Lula Carson Smith was born on February 19, 1917. She was the oldest of three children.

Carson found herself to be very good at playing the piano at a young age. She shocked her mother at age six by sitting down and playing with both hands a song she heard for the first time that afternoon in a movie theater. From then until late high school, she practiced fervently and hoped to carry her work onto a musical education at the New York Julliard School. However, at seventeen, she was told that she had pneumonia and would have many complications. Later, she found out she had rheumatic fever. She was too weak to play piano during her long recuperation, so she took to writing plays in the style of a favorite author, Eugene O'Neill.

In late high school Carson faced the crushing blow of losing her mentor and piano teacher, Mary Tucker. She was so devastated by this loss that she put aside her interest in piano permanently. She hoped to develop her new found love of writing. She made plans to leave for New York directly after graduation. She was barely seventeen when she arrived in Manhattan and registered for classes at Columbia University.

Repeated attacks of anemia, pleurisy, and other respiratory ailments related to her rheumatic fever interrupted her formal studies and frequently drove her south to recuperate. At this time was when she met Reeves McCullers, a Fort Bennington soldier from Alabama, who was also an aspiring writer. They were married on September 20, 1937. By 1940, she was already fading out of the romantic honeymoon phase of her marriage and left by herself to return to New York. After arriving, she separated from Reeves and took up residence in a boardinghouse arrangement of artists at a brownstone in Brooklyn Heights, NY. She remained here for four years.

During her separation from Reeves, Carson realized that she had alternative sexual yearnings and she fell in love with a Swiss novelist named Annemarie Clarec-Schwartzenbach. And a short time later, her husband fell in love with a man with whom he moved to Rochester, NY. They divorced not simply because of the legal grounds of adultery, but also because Carson found that Reeves had stolen some of her royalty checks when he left. Carson fell in love with a succession of other women. She was considered a lesbian by her friends in New York, but none her family in the south knew.

In 1943, Reeves was sent to the European front, and he wrote to Carson and begged for her forgiveness. The two exchanged letters throughout his stay and they remarried in 1945. They bought a house together in Paris. However, their life was chaotic and Carson soon left him again and then moved back to the states. Reeves committed suicide in 1953.

Carson lived with her mother in Nyack, New York for many years, and in 1947 Carson suffers two more stokes that left her partially disabled. Mrs. Smith died unexpectedly in 1955. Carson was devastated, and again alone. Over the next twelve years she became increasingly ill, and in 1962, she had surgery for breast cancer. On August 15 Carson suffered her last stroke and after laying comatose for 47 days from a massive brain hemorrhage, She died on September 29, 1967, at age fifty.

Carson McCullers was a prodigious young writer that first appeared in 1940, with the publication of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. "Carson McCullers is an enigma to many, even to those who knew her, including, to some extent the author herself. (Hershey, p.1)"Her work is marked with the feeling of loneliness that came from her lonely childhood. All of Carson's characters share a particular characteristic which is their capacity to love, the live, and eventually die, but the all fall in love with a hopeless hope.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter revolves around five characters. The central character that holds the book together is John Singer. He is a deaf-mute, and his friend, another deaf-mute, Antonopoulos, is his best friend . When Antonopoulos is put in an asylum, Singer finds himself friendless, and unable to communicate with anyone. He goes to the owner of a café, Biff Brannon, and eats at his restaurant three times a day. Through him, Singer meets three