Summary and Analysis: The Fun House, A Good Story and First Annual All-Indian Horseshoe Pitch and Barbecue
Uncle Moses: a tribal elder and storyteller commemorated in the second story.
Arnold: a boy who requests a story from Moses.
Narrator's Aunt: the protagonist of the first story who symbolizes strength and survival.
“The Fun House,” “A Good Story,” and “The First Annual All-Indian Horseshoe Pitch and Barbecue” focus on everyday life on the Reservation; they offer positive images of family relationships and neighborly friendships.
In “The Fun House,” the narrator’s aunt makes a bead dress too heavy to wear. It offers a test of strength for the women of the tribe, for she claims: “When a woman comes along who can carry the weight of this dress . . . we’ll have found the one who will save us all.”
It is clear, however, that her own strength will be tested in the story. She endures teasing from her husband and son and expresses disgust with them; they fail to recognize the ways in which she cares for them each day. The action moves suddenly to the past, to the memory of a night that included dancing, a serious car accident, and a hospital stay. This memory is followed by a determination to go swimming. She walks to the creek, dives in, and refuses to come out again. The plot shifts again to the memory of her son’s birth; it was a painful delivery followed by a sterilization that she had agreed to under false assumptions, that she had been tricked into. This time, the memory is succeeded by a desire to put on the dress. She walks home, puts it on, and takes a few steps. The short tale closes as she realizes that “things were beginning to change.”
In “A Good Story,” the narrator meets a challenge from his mother to tell a “good story,” one that proves “that good things always happen to Indians too” along with the bad. The story focuses on Uncle Moses, a tribal elder and storyteller, who awaits the arrival of local children at his home each day. He gives them sandwiches and tells them stories. Arnold, a boy disliked by his peers for his pale skin, is particularly fond of the stories that Moses tells. One day, he skips a field trip with his classmates just to request a story from Moses, a gesture that pleases the old man.
The tale ends with a peaceful scene from the narrator’s life. His mother sews a quilt in the house while he drinks Diet Pepsi outside and thinks: “there is just barely enough goodness in all of this.”
“The First Annual All-Indian Horseshoe Pitch and Barbecue” begins as Victor plays an old grand piano that he salvaged for the town. It continues with the simple pleasures of the afternoon: the eating of picnic food, the throwing of horseshoes, the telling of stories, and the playing of basketball. Simon wins the contests associated with all of these activities. The day ends with dancing that the narrator imagines can spread their dreams through the night and make “both sides” of a mixed-race child who was “born of white mother and red father” beautiful.
These stories counter the negative images of drinking, drug use, and conflict prevalent in the book with positive scenes of storytelling, personal strength, and contentment.
“The Fun House,” demonstrates the courage and strength of the narrator’s aunt. Her past and present experiences offer evidence of these qualities. In the present, she provides for the home life of her family each day by sewing and cooking; in the past, she survived a serious accident and a difficult childbirth, even the pain of being sterilized without her full consent. Her husband and son, however, fail to recognize her abilities...
(The entire section is 929 words.)