In my interdisciplinary arts class we’re reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. It’s my third time reading it and I still don’t like it much. It’s too unfocused for my taste. I fretted as I was preparing for the first day of class discussions: what would we talk about? The story seems meandering, pointless.
Yesterday the students filed into class and I stood before them. “Well, what did you think?” I asked them.
As usual, the conversation started slowly, but soon we were peeling back veils from the main characters, revealing universal human qualities and vexing social issues. It all seemed to tie together, to form a grand statement about the person by person frailties that undergird injustice. I felt a sense of awe that a writer as young as McCullers could weave something so dense and tight and true.
I paused to confess this to the students, that I never much liked the book and worried about what we’d say in class. It just goes to show, I said, that it works, that when you think critically and talk through ideas you eventually stumble upon some meaning.