The Play

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

A Moon for the Misbegotten begins on a hot, clear day at roughly noon at the Hogans’ run-down farm, the house weathered gray and congruous with the parched and barren land that surrounds it. Attached to the house’s left side is a small bedroom, its walls and roof covered with tar paper; three steps lead up to the door of this room, and it is from this door that a very large woman emerges, her feet bare and her body clothed in a sleeveless cotton dress. She is Josie Hogan, and she is obviously anxious about something as she looks around the right corner of the house toward the field and then sighs with relief when she sees Mike Hogan, her younger brother, running toward her. They have planned Mike’s escape from the farm, just as—the audience learns—she did for her other two brothers years earlier.

Because much of the dialogue in act 1 serves as exposition, the audience learns from Mike’s puritanical chiding of his older sister that she has a bad reputation in town for being promiscuous, has never seemed to care about her virtue, and is like her father, Phil Hogan, insofar as she helps him cheat people in various ways. In fact, Mike says, he would not be surprised if Josie and Hogan try to trick their landlord, James Tyrone, out of some of his recent inheritance: Mike imagines Josie will lure Tyrone into her bedroom some night and then, while he is there, have Hogan burst into the room with a shotgun, accuse Tyrone of compromising his daughter, and blackmail him into giving them some restitution. Although she proudly acknowledges her reputation, Josie denies having thought of such a scheme, says she would never take part in such a plot, and—suddenly seeing their father walking toward the house—commands Mike away to his freedom.

After Hogan’s initial rage over Mike’s escape has dissipated, he dismisses the boy as annoyingly prudish, especially considering the way Mike chastised Josie for her putative liaisons with local men. Josie tells Hogan about the scheme Mike accused them of plotting. Hogan seems interested in this idea, saying that Tyrone’s promise not to sell the farm out from under them cannot be trusted, because when he gets drunk he becomes forgetful. Besides running the risk of losing the farm, Hogan says, there is this to think about: Josie and Tyrone are two of a kind, they like each other, and Josie could reform Tyrone and keep him sober. Nevertheless, Josie will have no part in any scheme, and she believes that Tyrone will keep his word about not selling the...

(The entire section is 1031 words.)