Aunt Moon's Young Man Summary
by Linda Hogan

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Aunt Moon's Young Man Summary

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

On an autumn day in rural Oklahoma a town prepares for its annual fair. The event attracts people from neighboring towns who have goods to sell, thereby breaking the monotony of life in Pickens. Among the new attractions in town is a magnetic young man whom the narrator immediately identifies as a full-blooded Indian. Remarking that most of the people in Pickens are of mixed blood, the narrator explains that she feels somehow inferior to a pure-blood. After the narrator and her mother eye the drifter, the narrator thinks about Aunt Moon, an older woman whom she admires.

Aunt Moon lives alone with her dog, Mister, in a house that her father built on a hill. There is something mysterious about Aunt Moon, who seems to have a special kind of vision, an ancestral wisdom. Aunt Moon dries medicinal herbs, upholding a tribal tradition that most townspeople have discarded. The narrator is attracted to Aunt Moon because the old woman seems more alive than the rest of the people in Pickens.

When the narrator and her cousins visit the fair, they see barnyard oddities such as chickens that lay green eggs. The narrator wants Aunt Moon to look at the strange chickens, but Aunt Moon seems distracted. The narrator realizes that Aunt Moon has spotted the young drifter and is drawn to him. That night the narrator’s mother and father dress for a waltz contest. At the dance, the narrator notices that the local women seem especially animated because of the presence of the young man. When Aunt Moon arrives, she dances with the young man, causing the other women to raise their eyebrows and whisper. Soon, the town of Pickens is scandalized by the affair carried on between Aunt Moon and the young stranger. The women shun Aunt Moon in public but go to her in secret to buy her ancient remedies. The narrator’s father forbids her from visiting Aunt Moon’s house so long as the stranger, Isaac, is there.

At this point, the narrator digresses by telling the reader how she came to call Bess Evening by the name of Aunt Moon. Bess Evening seems to fit her nickname because sometimes she is full of strength and light and at other times seems pale and weak. The narrator’s mother tells her the story of the freak...

(The entire section is 594 words.)