In “A Good Story” in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, the narrator explains that his mother was not fond of the stories he told. She found them dark and disturbing and felt that he unfairly emphasized all the negative aspects of Native American life. Those stories were “bad” not because they were poorly written but because of the supposedly negative perspective that he employed. She requests that he tell a story about “good things” happening to Indigenous people.
He complies, and the resulting story actually turns out to be a story within a story. It centers on two characters, a boy named Arnold and an elderly man called Uncle Moses. The elderly man is a storyteller, and Arnold loves his stories. Arnold is overweight but runs well and also excels at basketball. However, he sometimes prefers to visit Moses and listen to stories over playing with his peers. One day Arnold arrives unexpectedly at Moses’s home, telling him that he has skipped a school field trip to a baseball game in favor of hanging out with the older man.
Moses, who comments on the value of “unexpected gifts,” received the visit with pleasure as an “unplanned kindness.” The story he tells in response to Arnold’s request is exactly this story. The narrator’s mother is so pleased to hear of the kindness and the closeness between two people of different generations that she turns it into a song.