The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

This was another scene from Carson McCullers’ book The Heart is a Lonely Hunter that really stood out. It’s one of those tragic moments when idle childish games suddenly lead to serious, grown-up consequences, and everything changes forever.


‘Bubber had put his slingshot in his pocket and now he played with the rifle. Spareribs was ten years old and his father had died the month before and this had been his father’s gun. All the smaller kids loved to handle that rifle. Every few minutes Bubber would haul the gun up to his shoulder. He took aim and made a low pow sound.

‘Don’t monkey with the trigger,’ said Spareribs, ‘I got the gun loaded.’ …

‘Lookit,’ said Bubber suddenly. ‘Here comes Baby again. She sure is pretty in the pink costume.’

            Baby walked towards them slowly. She had been given a prize box of popcorn candy and was reaching in the box for the prize. She walked in that same prissy, dainty way. You could tell that she knew that they were all looking at her.

            ‘Please Baby, -‘ Bubber said when she started to pass them. ‘Lemme see your little pink pocket-book and touch your pink costume.’

            Baby started humming a song to herself and did not listen. She passed by without letting Bubber play with her. She only ducked her head and grinned at him a little.

            Bubber still had the big rifle up to his shoulder. He made a loud pow sound and pretended like he had a shot… He was too quick for Mick to stop him. She had just seen his hand on the trigger when there was the terrible ping of the gun.’


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