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Title: Absurd perseverance in Carson McCullers’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Authors: Young, Angus
Keywords: Death in literature
Suicide in literature
Discourse analysis, Literary
Alienation (Philosophy) in literature
Meaning (Philosophy) in literature
Issue Date: 2018-06
Publisher: University of Malta. Department of English
Citation: Young, A. (2018). Absurd perseverance in Carson McCullers’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Antae Journal, 5(2), 154-168.
Abstract: This essay argues that Carson McCullers’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940) renders suicide as an ineffective response to an unassailable condition of alienation. In so doing, the text celebrates the perseverance of characters who continue living while dismissing the possibility of disrupting such a state of being through a self-orchestrated death. This extolling of survival and concurrent securing of a social order of alienation, I suggest, realises and problematises the logic of Albert Camus’s The Myth of Sisyphus. Camus argues that revolting against an insurmountable problem of being unable to define a meaning to life is itself a reason to continue living. However, such a construction presupposes the ineffectual nature of self-killing and renders living as a perpetual struggle against a fixed state of being. I suggest that McCullers develops a similar Sisyphean structure in her novel. The unassailable challenge in McCullers’ text is one of inevitable alienation working against a desire for a shared collective understanding. John Singer’s suicide troubles this construction as it reaffirms a separation between people while simultaneously ending an individual’s struggle against such isolation. An unsettled tension is then raised between the choices of a futile life or a futile death.
Appears in Collections:Antae Journal, Volume 5, Issue 2
Antae Journal, Volume 5, Issue 2

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