Summary and Analysis
Chapter 15 - Miss Lonelyhearts Has a Religious Experience
This chapter's title is the most ironical in the entire novel. It refers to Miss Lonelyhearts' hallucination of the world as a fish caught on the hook of Christ, to his conviction that he is becoming one with Christ, to his delusive rush to offer salvation to Doyle, and to his own self-crucifying death. As Miss Lonelyhearts recovers next day in bed, his rock becomes a furnace, and he feels physically sicker than ever. His fever represents the mounting conflicts within his split self. He must suffer and overcome this fever in order to live but its immediate effect is to increase his delusions. He shouts aloud for Christ as life; he shouts to a Christ who is seizing the world as if it were a fish. He is ecstatically convinced that this is a part of God's plan: As an embodiment of Christ, Miss Lonelyhearts will be able to heal, and so when Doyle appears, Miss Lonelyhearts rushes out, his arms widespread, to work his first miracle.
Doyle, who is also acting out of compulsion, but compulsion he cannot wholly believe in, wants to warn Miss Lonelyhearts. Doyle is frightened and only pretending to himself that he needs revenge. Because Miss Lonelyhearts sees Doyle as representing all his lonely, suffering readers, he cannot see Doyle's human reality — an angry, shamed, aggressive, but also timid and driven person. Doyle's retreat, for he really wants to run away, is blocked by Betty. Miss Lonelyhearts is caught suddenly between their opposing worlds, and he is accidentally killed as they collide. The killing is an accident brought about by all of Miss Lonelyhearts' meddling and his Christ-like delusions, for Miss Lonelyhearts is most dangerous when he is most active. Dead now, he is released from his torment, but he leaves behind two more victims — a pregnant woman and a man who will be falsely accused of murder, perfect candidates for future letters to yet another Miss Lonelyhearts.