Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 337
There are three characters in "Communist": the main character and narrator, Les; Les's mother, Aileen; and Aileen's boyfriend, Glen Baxter.
As the narrator, Les is forty-one years old, but in the events of the story, he is only sixteen. In the story he tells, Les lives with his mother, Aileen, in Victory, Montana. Aileen is only thirty-two and, as Les states, still trying to find herself. "My mother looked young then, like a young girl, in her flimsy short-sleeved waitress dress and her skinny bare legs," he says.
They mostly live off Les's father's life insurance policy, but Aileen also works as a barmaid and waitress. Les states that the older he got, the more he enjoyed his mother's absences, in the evenings as well as the occasional night, as he could invite people over without his mother knowing.
In the story, his mother is seeing a self-proclaimed communist named Glen Baxter. The narrator states that he is between his and his mother's age, so he is about twenty-four. Like the other two characters, he seems like he is still trying to find himself. When he refuses to wade into the river to get the dying bird (they're on a goose hunt), the narrator suggests that Glen suddenly "saw his life going a way he didn't like. A woman with a son."
Initially, Les likes Glen, because, like his father, he is a "labor man" and participates in masculine activities such as hunting. That, however, proves only a image he is projecting. When he is scared, he pretends he's fine by telling Les that he isn't afraid of Les hitting or killing him. In reality, he is "scared of something . . . soft in himself." Les does nothing; he says he feels sorry for him.
Unlike Glen, Les is able to express his softer side. At the end of the story, he feels strong enough within himself to tell his mother she is still feminine. As he says, "sixteen is young, but it can also be a grown man."