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Mick Kelly is the artist figure of the novel, making the novel a sort of "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl" (a play on James Joyce’s famous novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man). Mick is characterized by obsessiveness she is obsessive about music and about people.
As an artist figure, Mick defines the artist as intensely personal and private. She puts all her private things in a big hat box and guards it jealously from her siblings, who seem to care very little about what she has in it. She divides her life and her thoughts into an outside room and an inside room. In the inside room, she composes her music and thinks about the people who affect her life. She can be sitting in the midst of a group of people talking and go to her inside room and be perfectly clear in her thinking about music. In both of these areas, the artist is then private.
Yet Mick is also intensely affected in the development of her art by her family’s poverty and by the fact that she is a girl. Her family cannot pay of music lessons, so Mick cannot learn how to read and write music. Her family cannot pay for a piano or even a radio, so Mick has to use the piano in he school’s gymnasium and listen outside the windows of strangers to the radio. The novel opens with Mick attempting to make a broken ukulele into a violin for composing her music. In the end of the novel, it seems almost certainty hat Mick’s dreams of becoming a famous composer and conductor will be thwarted by her poverty as she has to take a job at Woolworth’s and is so exhausted at the end of the day, that she cannot think of music.
McCullers uses Jake Blount as the ideologue (the person who speaks an idea or stands for a kind of thinking) of the discourse of economic justice that was so very central to the 1930s in the U.S.A. Yet, unlike most of the people on the left during the economic crisis of the 1930s who worked diligently for economic justice, Jake is unbalanced. He is so caught up in his theory that he is among a few elite people who know the truth that he can never take people on their own merits and respect the integrity of their thinking and their choices in life. He thinks of them as the "Don’t knows" and treats them accordingly. As McCullers’ depicts it, Jake’s radical ideas are a symptom of an emotional problem as well as social and economic ones.