The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

I read ‘The Heart is a Lonely Hunter’ by Carson McCullers not long ago. It’s a book of one vivid scene after another, with so many well-drawn characters and so many moments that stick in the mind. Many of them seemed to demand an attempt at illustration. Here’s a scene from early on that I particularly liked.


‘They came to the big, new house that was being built. The ladder was still propped against the edge of the roof, and she screwed up nerve and began to climb… Five minutes later Mick stood up and held herself very straight. She spread out her arms like wings. This was the place where everybody wanted to stand. The very top. But not many kids could do it. Most of them were scared, for if you lost grip and rolled off the edge it would kill you. All around were the roofs of other houses and the green tops of trees. On the other side of town were the church steeples and the smoke-stacks from the mills. The sky was bright blue and hot as fire. The sun made everything on the ground either dizzy white or black.

             She wanted to sing. All the songs she knew pushed up towards her throat, but there was no sound. One big boy who had got to the highest part of the roof last week let out a yell and then started hollering out a speech he had learned at High School – ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend me your ears!’ There was something about getting to the very top that gave you a wild feeling and made you want to yell or sing or raise up your arms and fly.’

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