National Endowment of the Arts - The Big Read
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

by Carson McCullers

The dimensions of a work of art are seldom realized by the author until the work is accomplished.


Teachers may consider the ways in which these activities may be linked to other Big Read community events. Most of these projects could be shared at a local library, a student assembly, or a bookstore.

  1. Invite an historian (or someone who lived during the Depression, or the beginning of the Civil Rights movement) to meet with students to talk about the era of the novel. Prepare a collective series of questions in advance and use these as a way to generate a conversation. Have students take their new knowledge back into an interpretation of the novel. Did this information change the way they understand the novel? The discussion can take place in the library, a student assembly, or a bookstore.
  2. McCullers adapted some of her novels and short stories for the stage. Find a local theater teacher-artist to work with your class. Arrange students in groups of four. One volunteer should act as director and be responsible for coaching. The other three should take on roles and act out a scene. They can use dialogue from the book, but are welcome to invent their own where appropriate, making sure to stay in character. Have students perform the scene at a local library or bookstore. After each scene, have the director explain their choices.
  3. Explore the cultural period of the 1930s by creating radio shows that provide in-depth information on what was happening in the following artistic communities: music, theater, visual arts, photography, and dance. Teams of students can focus on different artistic communities, also creating advertisements that reflect the period. Perform the radio shows for an audience or record the shows to share with your community. If possible, create podcasts of these radio shows. Have classmates write reviews of the shows.
  4. Mick Kelly plans a fancy party at her house. Assisted by some research, plan a party that simulates the kind of gathering kids would have had in the 1930s. Students can dress the part. Plans can include a theme, menu, music playlist, and dance styles. Vary this project by putting Mick into the current generation. What would the party entail? Use this event to celebrate The Big Read.
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