Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“A Walk in the Sun” hinges on the cleverness of astronaut Trish Mulligan who determines to walk around the Moon to stay in the sunlight and keep her solar-powered life-support systems in operation. Once this solution to her predicament is presented, the rest of the survival story focuses on how she copes with the utter solitude of her situation, hundreds of thousands of miles from the nearest living human, with no possible communication other than the sound of her own memories. Early in the story, author Geoffry A. Landis introduces Trish’s older sister Karen. Karen had always pushed her “bratty little sister” to keep up, to accomplish more. Although she resented her older sister’s pushing, Trish nonetheless idolized her. Trish did not realize that Karen had to struggle to keep ahead of her sister. Karen left her sister behind after dying in a wilderness fall.

The gradual buildup of Trish’s dependence on Karen, which reaches a climax in her settling of unresolved issues with her dead sister, fits well in the survival tale. The adventure side of the story presents the thrill of whether Trish will make it clear around the Moon and get rescued, and the psychological side presents the increasing dependence on her imaginary sister, which must lead to either madness or a resolution.