Dear Carson McCullers,
This year has been particularly challenging for me. Even though I have only been in school for a few months it feels like every single one of my daily activities has been excruciatingly painful. My activities and school work feel like they will overwhelm me, I've lost countless hours of sleep worrying about the next day, and when I do sleep I have constant nightmares. I've always tried to be a good student, but sometimes I wonder if the workload will crush me entirely. Your book contained many characters and circumstances that I found relatable to my recent feelings of anxiety. Your characters and situations depressed me at points, the characters seemed unsure of themselves and unwilling to overcome the tragedies that they faced, which goes against my belief that hope can overcome anything. When I became immersed in the worlds of your characters and the tragedies and morals they embodied, I was forced to face my deepest fears. There were times when the characters let their insecurities and fears control them, they were selfish and at times cruel. By the end of the book it seemed that they were entirely crushed by the weight of the world. That is my greatest fear, that I will fail to be the successful and confident person that I aspire to become, and that I will be crushed by the world, and no one will even care.
As my life passes by I am discovering how hard it is to find oneself in a world of pressures, injustices, demands, expectations, deadlines, obligations, commitments - all that require time and attention at the sacrifice of my own comfort and personal confidence. In the book The Heart is a Lonely Hunter- many of the characters fall short of their capabilities, feelings of hopelessness emanate from your characters, particularly Mick. She felt so lonely in a sea of students and friends, and was always trying to immerse herself in other worlds, like the worlds of music, or the world of Singer, but always felt like she was being held back, by her family and even by herself. When she gave up her dreams to pursue a "realistic career" at the store, it made me think of my own ambitions to become a professional actress, and whether or not I will have to give up my dream in order to pursue a "realistic career." When spent an intimate moment with Harry Minowitz, that relationship was soon destroyed by their inability to commit. This particular moment reminds me of my hesitance to make commitments not only to my schoolwork and activities, but also toward other people. I am not always sure how to make friends, or keep them. I share the universal fear that I will die alone, and unloved, having lived a meaningless existence. As I strive for my goals (grades, college, relationships, etc...) I feel like I am holding myself back when I make mistakes, and I become scared of what the future will hold and whether or not I can deal with what is to come. The characters within your book embodied my fears, Singer's tragic suicide, Jake's hopeless wandering, and Dr. Copelands unaccomplished dreams all seemed to confirm that my fears could come true.
However, your book opened my eyes to something that I knew to be true, but never fully comprehended: I am not alone in my fear and anxiety. Every character in your story had two things in common: they were all connected in some way to Singer, and all had their own fears and doubts about the future and about themselves. This lead me to reevaluate the people I encounter in my daily life, some I have never took the time to think about before. Every single person I have ever met in my lifetime has experienced those same fears of failure, and loneliness. These fears do not make me weak, they make me human.
I find it a bit ironic that there is one thing that can unite everyone in the world, despite different circumstances and people and every variation of living, there is there is a common sense of loneliness within each and every one of us. My empathy for others comes from my own experiences of self loathing, and a constant desire for someone to listen to me and consider me important. The characters in the book tried to eliminate their own self loathing and desires by attempting to take their life into their own hands, but despite all their actions they seemed to end up right where they began. Characters such as Singer and Blout prove that fears can only overcome us once we refuse to stop fighting. Even though we may have lost sight of the light at the end of the tunnel, that is no reason to stop moving forward. I believe that the purpose of life is not finding someone to make you feel important, or even the fulfillment of our dreams... But the belief that even though we are flawed, angry, selfish, depressed, and weak; and even though we have been defeated by difficult circumstances of this life time and time again, there is always reason to carry on through the pain and the suffering of this life in order to seek new goals, new hope, and new life. The heart may be a lonely hunter, but it is the choice of the individuals heart whether or not we want to keep hunting, or accept defeat.
Hannah V. Boyens