Hoagan's story is an exploration of the inner well-being and the spirit of the Native American people. In the exposition of the narrative of "Aunt Moon's Young Man there is a sense of defeatism and discontent symbolized by the animals to whom Native Americans have always be close.
In the heat the chickens did not flap their wings. They sounded tired and old and their shoulders drooped like old men.
Further, the passivity of the townspeople is symbolized by how the mother and daughter look through the window at the stranger in town and at the house of Bess (Aunt Moon) that sits atop a hill which view the entire town. The other women of the town, too, watch passively. On the other hand, Aunt Moon, as her name suggests, has sight of so much more and changes and feels many emotions. When she is melancholic, thinking of her dead daughter whom she so dearly loved, Bess puts her hair down. That she is active is also suggested by her creation of remedies and her ability to cut wood. Her gathering of herbs and communion with Nature makes Aunt Moon more true to the essence of a Native American.
In contrast, the mother puts up her hair in curlers, restricting her nature and trying to alter herself from the normal appearance of having straight hair. Rather than replace the broken mirror in the bathroom, symbolic of the existence of the Native Americans in the town, the mother seeks an alternate mirror in the house to use. This broken mirror is symbolic of restriction, a restriction which the young narrator rebels against in her naming of her aunt, in her visits to Aunt Moon, and her departure from the languishing existence in her town.