May, 2017: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

(Book #85) The members of the Boarding House Book Club met for their discussion of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter last night. Mrs. A. outdid herself with hospitality and fine cooking. I was up in my room putting some important papers together so I didn’t look carefully at the assortment of cheese and fruit set out in the parlor, but I paid close attention to the meal once we moved around the dining room table. It was a big group of us, only one tenant stayed up in her room. Mrs. A. served a pot roast, the first ever, she said though none of us could believe it. She served it with mashed potatoes, peas, asparagus and gravy. Some of us embarrassed ourselves by having more than our fair share of the gravy, though I won’t name names. She told us we should thank someone named Garten for the deliciousness of the meal, but none of us could think of any Gartens that live in town, so we just assumed she was being modest. We’re pretty sure she cooked it all without any help from anyone.  For dessert Mrs. A. served an apple pie baked on a sheet pan so there was plenty of it.  All of the meal was consumed amidst lively conversation and we heard many childhood stories. It seems one of the tenants, Geraldine, had a childhood similar to Ralph Kelly’s in the book. McCullers’ prose, and the tone it creates, has such a distinct signature. So much is communicated in this novel but some of us had to admit that we  tired when the focus stayed too long on Jake Blount or Dr. Copeland. Then one of the more cantankerous tenants gave us a quiz:

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter QUIZ

In the movie, Mick Kelly is one of three children and Portia is an only child. How many more children are in these two families in the book?

  1. 0 – the book has the same number of kids as the movie.
  2. 1 – Mick’s family is the same but Portia has a brother.
  3. 3 – Portia has a brother, and Mick has two older sisters.
  4. 6 – Mick has two older sisters and an older brother, and Portia has three brothers.

In the movie, one of the four people who become significant in John Singer’s life is almost written out, but in the book they are:

  1. Jake Blount, Dr. Copeland, Mick Kelly and Charles Parker
  2. Biff Brannon, Jake Blount, Dr. Copeland and Mick Kelly
  3. Biff Brannon, Jake Blount, Mick Kelly and Baby Wilson
  4. Biff Brannon, Dr. Copeland, Mick Kelly, and Charles Parker

In the movie, Singer buys a phonograph for his room and allows others, notably Mick, to listen, but in the book he buys what for his room?

  1. He buys a phonograph in the book as well.
  2. He buys a movie projector with Mickey Mouse and Popeye movies.
  3. He buys a radio.
  4. He buys a Keurig coffee machine and K cups.

In the movie,  all of the following occur.  Which is the only one true of the book?  

  1. Bubber says he can’t read so Singer better not hand him one of his cards if he wants something.
  2. Mick spends most of the time at her party with Delores Brown’s older brother Harry.
  3. Jake Blount gets a job with a carnival.
  4. Singer moves to another town to be closer to the mental hospital. 
  5. They are all true of the book.

In the movie, Dr, Copeland seeks justice for Willie’s mistreatment in prison from a judge at the court house. He is made to wait all day and isn’t told the judge is gone until an hour after the judge has left the building.  What happens in the book?

  1. He doesn’t go to the court house in the book.
  2. He is beaten and thrown in jail.
  3. He is allowed to see the judge who tells him he can do nothing for him.
  4. He is allowed to see the judge who offers him a coffee from his new Keurig machine.

Bonus Question #1:  In the movie, Bubber’s biggest offense is lighting firecrackers at Mick’s party, what is it in the book?

Bonus Question #2: At his Christmas party, who does Dr. Copeland talk about in his speech to all in attendance — it’s not the baby Jesus.

Bonus Question #3: When Mick is trying to keep George (Bubber) awake when she can’t sleep, she starts a game about someone whose name starts with M.  Who is it?

Bonus Question #4 (the pet question) Singer writes to Antonapoulos about the cat who used to hang out at the jewelry shop — what happened to the cat?

A favorite quote from the book to make the answers a little farther away: “Maybe when people longed for a thing that bad, the longing made them trust in anything that might give it to them.”

Answers: 4, 2, 3, 3, 2, He shoots Baby Wilson in the head., Karl Marx, Mussolini, and He ate something poisonous and died.