Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Estrangement and the Consequences of Metaphorical Deafness

Reconsidering The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2021), 15, (1), 57–73.

Abstract

The article traces a Deaf-oriented rhetoric within The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, examining the consequences of reading and understanding deafness metaphorically, both on and beyond the fictive page. The Heart performs an uncomfortably close sketch of these consequences, culminating in protagonist John Singer’s suicide. The article situates deafness within a context of eugenics and oralism, and details Singer’s estrangement from community and eventually himself as a consequence of that community’s unwillingness to connect meaningfully with its only deaf citizen. The article also details how The Heart deserves to be critically reexamined by literary disability studies because it moves into the critical realms of discomfort and unease, raising questions about who may and may not engage with disability studies.

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Author details

Steele, Alexander