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Miss Lonelyhearts and the Clean Old Man
Miss Lonelyhearts sits in Delehanty’s speak easy with his drunken friends, who are involved in cheap gossip and jokes. His friends call him an escapist as he believes in Christ. Falling into trouble with another drunk man, Miss Lonelyhearts leaves the bar, beaten and without a tooth. Ned Gates accompanies him.
They come across a clean old man sitting quietly in one of the toilets. He seems to be ill. They press him to tell them his story and get violent with him when he refuses to say anything.
The reader gathers about Miss Lonelyhearts, that he initially enjoyed the importance given to him for being ‘Miss Lonelyhearts,’ but as time progresses and the letters full of illness, depression and dejection pile up, and he no longer finds his job exciting. Depression seems to define his world. The only inhabitants of his world seem to be, the Desperate, Sick of it all and the Broken hearted, and they are the ones who preoccupy his mind. This fills him with frustration and he decides to quit his job as Miss Lonelyhearts, but these shadows continue to dominate his mind. Perhaps the ordeal of listening to everyone’s sob story, becomes a routine and the routine turns into an obsession. That is why, he forces the poor old man to narrate his bit of anguish, and when he doesn’t, Miss Lonelyhearts’ bottled - up frustration gives way to violence towards the old clean man. The old man suffers, but refuses to talk about it.