Literature from all cultures has often featured the theme of man’s search to find spiritual fulfillment in his lifelong escape from emotion isolation. Carson McCullers is a feminist American author who has written The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. The story follows four individuals in search of spiritual fulfillment in their lives in the Deep South of the 1940s. McCullers makes a fictional universe of characters who long for a home spiritual. McCullers’s deep insight into loneliness and the transience in life gives readers a better understanding of humanity. He shows how man seeks out consolation from imaginary illusions that are not real. This human tendency to soothe loneliness by filling the emptyness of everyday, quotidian existence with imagination is represented in Jake Blount’s and Mick Kelley’s characters. In them, they find spiritual consolation through sharing their deepest, most private thoughts. Visitors believe John Singer to be all-knowing and able to understand their deepest desires and struggles. Singer’s ability to see the divine in others is only a mirror image of theirs. John Singer and his three visitors Blount/Copeland finally make it clear that the heart’s longing for spiritual fulfillment is not possible. Dr. Copeland, a black man oppressed in the Deep South’s racist society, longs for self expression and is the first person to call Singer a Christ-like character. Jan Whitt suggested that McCullers pointed out the weakness of self-reliance when she portrayed Copeland as confident, crying to his audience “we will save ourself…by dignity” (3). Contrary to her suggestions, Copeland actually strangles with his self-expression under the fa?ade Copeland uses of energy and conviction. He finds it difficult to find any hope in connecting with others. Copeland is vulnerable in his innermost self. His daughter asks him why he sits in the dark so much. Copeland is constantly depressed by his desire to show racial pride to his people. Singer, the deaf-mute, is often shown as being timorous or unmotivated in the novel. Copeland felt his deepest fears kept him from expressing himself fully. Singer was the only person who could understand what he had to say. Singer is most likely unable to interpret Copeland’s struggles as a deafman, but Singer has shown compassion and is nonetheless entrusted by Copeland’s idealistic deification. McCullers said that Copeland was described as “holding his head in the air…from his throat came a strange sound, reminiscent of a singing moan.” He was reminded of Singer’s smile behind the yellow match fire on that rainy nights–and peace was inside him” (77). Singer’s profundity might be an illusion. Singer is still able to offer Copeland great empathy through his racial wars with southern society. The novel paradoxically exempts readers from any engagement in real racial progress since Copeland has failed to achieve anything concrete. Copeland was a visionary in his racial struggles, and Singer is his spiritual dependency. However, Copeland himself fully represents McCullers’s view of man’s natural tendency to romanticize or deify others in order to alleviate their isolation and to console themselves when they fail. Blount is the lower class’s battered anima. As Copeland seeks spiritual renewal from Singer through his political struggles, Blount finds comfort in Singer’s camaraderie, as well. Blount’s confusion about God was reflected by a literary critic. It revealed the spiritual distortion within his soul that further magnifies Blount’s doubts and deepens his faithlessness in God. Blount wanders around town looking for spiritual belonging. However, he eventually falls for the deceitful trap of religion and is not able to find the Christ he desperately wanted. He is demoralized about religion and will openly share his views with Singer, with the hope that Singer’s quiet countenance might allow him to understand his deepest thoughts. Blount is clearly in pain from his word-wasting and Singer seems to be helping him express it. Singer cannot respond to any ordinary comment and he is disillusioned by everyone. Blount’s omniscient deification of Singer encourages Blount to speak his full mind and portrays the fact communications are the only access to love. McCullers explains in The Mortgaged Heart how “man feels a deep need to express his self by creating some unifying principle/God” (9). All people want Christ, McCullers believes, regardless of their definitions or beliefs. Blount picks a flesh-and blood hero to replace the prophet, drawing parallels with Christ and Singer. Singer’s calming fellowship, which heals Blount’s spiritual emptyness, is similar to Jesus’ healing of the sick and the poor. Blount’s inability to find God or the greater truth while living nomadic causes him instead to worship Singer as the ultimate God, an imagined figure that is only a reflection his idealistic traits. In contrast to Blount and Copeland’s struggles, Mick Kelley’s motivations are different. They reflect the younger, more feminine atmosphere of the 1940s and their quest for spiritual integration. Mick can overcome loneliness by listening to Beethoven’s works. Music is an echo of the soul. Mick feels the same as Blount, who found temporary spiritual belonging in the form of self-expression. She must enjoy Beethoven’s symphonies by herself, as she is the only one who appreciates music. This causes her to feel isolated and lonely. Mick finds inner comfort in Singer because Singer is a ‘homemade God’ that she can identify with. Singer’s selflessness makes his fellows long for the comfort of his quiet spirit. The room where he sits is a sign of acceptance. They meet the mute face-to-face and have a good time.” (Witt 8). Mick imagines Singer as the only one who can hear and understands the musical atmosphere. Singer’s inability to communicate with others is a sign of the fragility of language and self-expression. This is not possible through the clamor of cities. But it is possible to overcome the loneliness that has been afflicting us all. Mick’s deification of Singer by Mick further emphasizes the element and articulates her own view on delusional eification. Mick eventually realizes that Singer’s views are only illusions. As Mick matures, Mick’s music notes are less melodic and the jarring realities of society become more obvious. Mick realized that Singer is not a real God. The Lord was hushed… (McCullers 101-2). Retrospectively, Mick Kelley is young and inexperienced compared to Blount and Copeland, but she is the only one who can analyze Singer’s lionization. Mick finally sees the futility of Singer being made into a heroic figure. Her rational realization shows that illusionary deification can only lead to temporary spiritual fulfillment. Singer’s wide assortment of visitors represents a variety social, racial, and sexual positions. This implies that Singer’s failures in her individual quests cannot be reduced to one place, as everyone experiences discouragement. But Copeland and Blount are unable to grasp that the purveyors of peace and sanity are not peace. Singer is the “hunter” who has the most loneliness, even though he can soothe the pain of the others. Singer is described as the man with “gentle eyes so grave as a wizard’s”, McCullers 67. He idolizes Antonapoulos as a man psychologically incompetent who can’t replicate his emotions nor understand them. Singer and Antonapoulos have a relationship that is “humanistic, involving love and sexuality far removed from normal relationships” (Whitt 9). Singer’s devotion to Antonapoulos was unwavering and spiritual. They were always one in Singer’s waking thoughts. Singer’s inability or ability to speak, like Mick Kelley, Blount, or Copeland, gives him consolation. Singer, however, is unable to speak and relies on his imagination for his thoughts. This makes Singer a more spiritually devoted person, one whom he views as distinct from all the other deaf-mutes. Singer, too, needs other people and cannot live alone without a confidant. Singer is fundamentally different from the other people. Singer invests his whole self in his fantasized Antonapoulos, and Singer’s only source to happiness. Singer, however, is not the only one concerned. Their relationship with him resembles that between a psychiatrist and a patient. It is a place for projection and transfer (Murray 5). Singer sings of spiritual isolation. McCullers is McCullers’s regret over the rarity of selfless love. Singer is left feeling isolated and disillusioned by Antonopoulos’s passing. This results in a sense deceit that infects Mick and Blount. Copeland grows older and must speak again. Blount, who is searching for a missing messiah in a darkened village, stumbles into it and recalls the “all his innermost thoughts” that Singer told him. Mick is Mick’s eldest daughter. He was a Woolworth’s clerk. Singer’s suicide is more than a symbol of one man’s despair. He also single-handedly destroys the empty’ dreams and hopes of all his visitors. This demonstrates that deification does not provide permanent spiritual fulfillment. True escape from the perpetual loneliness of the soul lies in a kind of love which transcends the social and personal. The characters John Singer and his three visitors, Copeland and Blount, are recognizable not only because they share a common humanity, but also because the heart’s search for eternal fulfillment by ‘hunting’ is impossible. Brannon, the shopkeeper, expresses his view on this puzzled truth. He concludes that the answer to isolating loneliness may be beyond our reach. “Brannon saw a glimpse at human struggle…of the endless fluid passing of humanity through infinite time; of the laborers and the loved” (McCullers 30,). Singer’s visitors are disillusioned and combine to create an impression of man’s search for limitlessness. They also feel a connection with the universe. In this sense, their perceptions of boundaries might temporarily be erased as they have the ability to deify the divinity of others. Works cited McCullers and Carson. The human soul is a solitary creature that searches for something to fill its emptiness. North Carolina was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1940. Print. Murray, Jennifer. “Approaching community in Carson McCullers’s The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.” Notes On Contemporary Literature, vol. 16, no. 1 (2004): 4-7. Bloom’s Literary Reference Online is an online resource that provides information about famous authors and their works. Web. 17 Mar. 2012.
. Jan Whitt examined the plight of the “loneliest hunter” in their article published in the Southern Literary Journal in 1992. They focused on the solitude experienced by a hunter and how it can be both a positive and negative experience. Twentieth-Century Literarycriticism. Ed. Linda Pavlovski. Vol. 155. Detroit: Gale, 2005. The Literature Resource Center is a source for information about authors and their works. Web. 5 Mar. 2012.