Analysis

Singer says later in the narrative in a letter to Antonapoulos that Dr. Copeland works harder than anybody he has ever met. Indeed, Dr. Copeland's highly disciplined personality appears to support this claim. But the harsh and unforgiving aspects of his character have also driven away those who ought to be closest to him—his wife and children. Portia's invitation to the family reunion is one of many attempts she makes to draw Dr. Copeland back into the family. However, his worldview differs too greatly from those of his relatives, even those most closely related to him, for them ever to become close again. Willie's arrest is a further disappointment to Dr. Copeland—not only is Willie uneducated and unsuccessful (in his father's eyes, at least), he is now a convicted felon.

When The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter first appeared in 1940, Richard Wright, the author of Black Boy and Native Son, commented that the most impressive aspect of the novel was McCullers's ability to handle black characters with as much ease and justice as white characters. Portia always strongly expresses the need to communicate emotions and to remain unified against isolation, particularly the isolation of blacks from other blacks. Dr. Copeland, by contrast, expresses anger at the failure of blacks to demand their rights. To some degree, he accepts isolation from his own people for his education and views, along with the usual political and social isolation from white people.

It is somewhat surprising for us to learn that Dr. Copeland struck out against his wife, as he is not a violent person. He manages, even in situations in which he could easily become violent, to remain calm. He constantly advocates the importance of patience, and he tries in his own way to fight the evil he faces. The fact that Dr. Copeland could be so violent illustrates the deep rage and helplessness he feels for his own condition and the condition of blacks in the South in general.

Blount's passion for the socialist movement is somewhat confused; his plans are elaborated most fiercely when he is drunk. He will fight to defend a social reform until he falls unconscious, but neither he nor the workingmen with whom he occasionally quarrels understand what they are truly fighting about. The workers' resistance to and fear of revolution puzzles and infuriates Blount, as he assumes that a worker, in rejecting social protest, inherently rejects progress.

The Biblical words written on the wall interest Blount because he thinks that the person who would write such words might also aid him in his search for other people who are interested in riot or revolt. It is fitting that the line is violent, as we have already witnessed Blount's wild and occasionally violent nature.