(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“The Moons of Jupiter” is narrated in the first person by Janet, a woman whose father has been hospitalized and faces the possibility of dying during heart surgery. The story focuses on the narrator’s reflections on, and reevaluation of, her relationship with her father, as well as her relationships with her two daughters, Judith and Nichola.

The story begins in September in the Toronto General Hospital, where the father’s condition is being monitored. Flashbacks then inform the reader that Janet, whose real home is Vancouver, arrived in Toronto from England two days earlier. She was met at the airport by her younger daughter, Judith, and Don, her daughter’s live-in companion. Judith and Don left for Mexico the next day, leaving the narrator in their apartment during their absence. During a casual telephone call to her father, residing in a small town outside Toronto, she discovered that her father’s doctor was sending him to Toronto for an emergency medical examination, so she rented a car and drove her father to the hospital.

When a young doctor advises immediate surgery for a defective heart valve, the father resists, especially when an older doctor says that rest and medication might take care of the situation. Without surgery, he would die shortly anyway, so in the end, he decides to have the operation despite the risks.

What emerges during the story, from the dialogues between Janet and her father and Janet’s multiple, brief excursions into the past, is a portrait of her father. He is a working-class man—who is also a reader of...

(The entire section is 648 words.)