Miss Lonelyhearts Summary
Nathanael West

Everything you need to understand or teach Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West.

  • Miss Lonelyhearts Summary & Study Guide

Miss Lonelyhearts Summary

Many themes help define this spiritual problem as it appears in the Depression. From suffering come false visions and numb despair. The narrow innocence of Betty, Miss Lonelyhearts's girlfriend, brings a failed return to Eden on the farm. Shrike's comic cynicism, in denying all escape from suffering, fails absolutely to help. Miss Lonelyhearts's vision of religious order fails to communicate to his correspondents because, due to Shrike's omnipresent rhetoric, among other things, the language has lost the power to tell the truth. As Shrike's words emphasize, both nature and Christ fail to bring the moral order needed to deal with the people's problems. Only apocalypse promises to make a big enough change to heal this wound.

In the face of these moral questions without answers, Miss Lonelyhearts oversimplifies his mission. Chapter by chapter, he moves from compulsions to their opposites, from ascetic Christianity to sensual paganism, as simplistic...

(read more from the Short Guide)

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Miss Lonelyhearts Short Guide

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