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The main theme of the novel is announced in its title The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Each of the main characters of the novel is looking for someone who will give them perfect understanding and the peace that comes with that. Each (with he possible exception of Biff Brannon) is tragically isolated and desperate for the satisfactory shift out of isolation and into social contact. Such a shift would mean that they would be heard, they would be loved, and they would not be forced to accept the stifling norm.
The minor theme of the novel is the development of the poverty- stricken artist. In this subplot, McCullers draws attention to one of the less recognized victims of poverty--art.
The mood of the novel is brooding and melancholy. Since the characters are so sharply and poignantly isolated, most of the action takes place inside their heads. There are some moments of exuberance, but most of their interior lives are filled with angst and sadness.