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MonkeyNotes-The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
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Chapter 2

Jake is running down a street. He feels nauseous and he stops and vomits and then runs on. He has been in a riot at the carnival. When the fighting was over, he found himself lying next to a dead man and he isnít sure if he killed the man or not. He knows that no one could have stopped this fight. He had been stopping fights all summer, but this one was much worse. He had come upon the beginning of a fight between a white man and a black man. When the black man took out a knife, Jake had tackled him. Soon the onlookers joined into the fighting and it became a fight between white and black people. At some point in the fight, it changed so that everyone was fighting singly. Jake was knocked out and he doesnít know how long he was unconscious. When he came to consciousness, he was lying beside a dead young black man. He recognized the face but couldnít place it.

As Jake runs along trying to get away from the police he thinks are chasing him, he begins to think of Singerís suicide. He weeps disconsolately. His lips tremble so much that he bites them until they bleed. He comes upon one of Simmsí signs, "He Died to Save You" and then sees Simms himself. Simms calls out to him, "Sinner!" and tries to convince him to come to a meeting that night. Jake gets into a conversation with him, saying he wants to borrow Simmsí chalk to write more signs for Simms. Simms refuses, saying Jakeís signs are radical. Finally he walks away.

He remembers that when he heard that Singer had killed himself, he was angry more than he was sad. He reaches his room and goes inside to gather his things for leaving town. He looks over the pamphlets that he has written over the past few weeks. He remembers Doctor Copeland warning him not to stand alone, but he thinks he must do so now. He thinks often of Doctor Copeland and the argument they had had. He thinks the doctor is a fanatic. When he gets outside he walks toward Doctor Copelandís house, but when he reaches it, he sees that it is empty. Next, he walks to the Kelly house to ask Portia where her father is. Portia tells him her father had gotten much sicker after Jake had visited him and they have taken him to live in the country. She tells him she wonít give him her fatherís new address because he upset her father so much.


Jake leaves and goes to the cafe where Biff Brannon tries to get him to take off his clothes to dry them. He is hurting from such emptiness. He thinks of Singer again. He had given Singer everything and then Singer had killed himself. He feels stuck and alone and knows he must get away, but is so tired that the thought makes him feel panic. Biff brings him a warm drink and they begin a discussion. Jake acknowledges that Biff is a very decent man. He looks at Biff and sees how neatly he is dressed and smells perfume on him. Biff tells him about the afternoon newspaperís stories of the riot. The police think it was caused by labor agitation because they found pamphlets on the site. Biff advises Jake not to rush off to leave town, but Jake will not hear the advice.

Biff leaves him and Jake falls asleep. He dreams the recurring nightmare again, but this time, when Biff wakes him up, he remembers it clearly. He tells it to Biff. He is wandering through a crowd carrying something and he canít figure out where to put it. Biff doesnít understand why it is a nightmare. Finally, Jake decides to leave. Biff tries to get him to stay until it stops raining. As he is leaving, Biff gives him forty dollars. He walks through the streets and is sickened by the brutality of the poverty around him. "Even the earth itself seemed filthy and abandoned." At the edge of town, he turns onto a highway and as he walks on, he begins to feel hope rise again.

Notes

The penultimate chapter of the novel depicts a riot motivated by racism and poverty. Lancy Davis, the young man who wrote the winning essay at Doctor Copelandís Christmas contest, has been killed. Jake Blount is leaving town to escape possible arrest. The novel has built up to this kind of conflagration from the beginning. Jake Blount is the character who has been McCullersí ideologue of economic justice and the one she uses to show the mood of the town. So it is fitting that he would be at the center of the riot. However, instead of being with the people he has so long wanted to convince of the need for tearing down the old system, he has decided to go off alone.

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