Catch The Moon Theme

What is the theme of "Catch the Moon" by Judith Ortiz Cofer?

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One of the themes in the short story "Catch the Moon" is that of loss and its effect on people. Jorge Cintron loses his wife to cancer, after which he spends his free time “polishing utensils that only he uses” and studying for correspondence courses in “just about everything.” According to Luis, his father does all this in order to keep himself busy following his wife’s death. In fact, even though Mr. Cintron is as good a cook as his late wife, he has lost interest in cooking. Luis is also devastated by his mother’s death. He remembers his anger at losing her and how later this had made him “punch a hole in his bedroom wall.” He had even refused to talk to the people who came to the funeral. It is stated that he lost his mother three years before the date of narration and joined high school two years before, upon which he became a troublemaker. This means that his delinquent behavior started after his mother’s death. Luis remembers his mother’s love for him and bursts into tears. He misses his mother.

Another theme is that of love and its ability to heal. Through Naomi, Luis remembers his mother’s love and decides to pick up the pieces of his life. He is motivated to work into the night, sorting the wheel covers in order to get a hubcap for Naomi’s car. While working, he begins to understand “why his father kept busy all the time.” When he finds the right hubcap, he polishes it, and even though it is late in the night, he goes to Naomi’s house to “give her the first good thing he had given anyone in a long time.”

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A theme is a universal truth or underlying message.  For this story, two examples of theme are the idea of a diamond in the rough and the transcendent power of love.

Let’s take the first theme first.  Young Luis is a trouble-maker.  He has been arrested for playing around and breaking into the house of a lady with a “million cats” on a dare.  Luis seems like a bad seed.  He is grumpy, lazy, and dejected.  When a girl named Naomi shows up looking for a hubcap for an old car, it reminds Luis about his mother.  The girl lives in a funeral home.   Luis thinks about his mother.

She wasn’t perfect or anything.  She had bad days when nothing he did could make her smile, especially after she got sick.  But he never heard her say a negative thing about anyone. (p. 7)

We realize that Luis is not that bad.  He formed the gang and got into trouble not because he is a bad seed, but to make up for a terrible loss.  Many people grieve by becoming withdrawn.  When Naomi shows up needing the hub cap, Luis works all night to find it.

For hours he sorted the wheel covers by make, size and condition, stopping only to call his father and tell him what he was doing. (p. 7)

Luis’s story also demonstrates the transcendent power of love.  When Naomi arrives, Luis thinks of his mother and wants to prove to her that he is a good person.

He missed her.  He missed her so much.  Suddenly a flood of tears that had been building up for almost three years started pouring from his eyes. (p. 7)

Luis is sure to be changed from his experience.  He was changed by his memory of his mother, and his love for her.

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