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MonkeyNotes-The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
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Notes

The first chapter of Part 2 inaugurates Mick’s last night of childhood. The process is not quite as punctual as this, but when the night of her party is over, she feels as if she should not wear the shorts of her childhood any more. Two things happen in this chapter to push Mick into adolescence. One is her recognition of her father’s separate subjectivity and the other is the party which begins as playing at being an attempt at entering adulthood and ends as a last childish romp.

When Mick goes into the room where her father has set up his watch repair shop, she wants to make it quick so she can get outside to her own thoughts of music and freedom. Yet when she sees her father as a lonely person who wants someone to talk to, she stays with him and gives him the comfort of her presence. This recognition of her father as "a real separate person" is very important in Mick’s consciousness of her own place in the world. It is a moment of recognition many people never have.

When she gives her party, the scene is at first comic in its awkwardness. The rough and loud girl dressing up in her older sisters’ silk stockings and fancy dress, the tiara and the high-heeled shoes all seem like playing dress up, as if it is too early in her life to dress like this. Her phone calls to her schoolmates have the same mix of adulthood and childhood. She makes the call feeling good about the sound of "apartment A" over the phone and then if the other person acts rudely, she tells them to go eat grass in her child’s vocabulary. The party itself shows that Mick is not alone in being at the borderline between childhood and adolescence. The other children behave in the same mixed way, adult and child-like. When the party disintegrates into a "regular playing-out," Mick joins in and leads the way back to the exuberance of childhood.


It is as if she gorges herself on being a child and when she is done, she is no longer a child. When she goes to the bathroom to change her clothes, she sees that the shorts she’s been wearing are no longer appropriate for her. Mick next wanders the streets until she comes to a house where she sits outside to overhear the radio music and she hears Beethoven for the first time. McCullers describes the experience in orgasmic terms. Mick feels like the music is "the worst hurt there could be" and she lies on the ground after the music is over and pounds her thighs with her fist to make herself feel physically the hurt of her heart. Then she scrapes her thighs with pebbles, bloodying herself. When she is done, she falls back on the ground "limp on the wet grass" as if in post-coital exhaustion and falls asleep under the stars.

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