Both “Catch the Moon” by Judith Ortiz Cofer and “The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant” by W. D. Wetherell are short stories with similar ideas and themes. Although the characters and plots differ slightly, the central themes are very similar. In “Catch the Moon”, the love of the main characters mother continues to strengthen him even after her death. In “The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant”, the narrators love for fishing continues to give him strength after he loses the girl he thought he loved.
In both short stories, love gives the main character strength.
In Cofer’s “Catch the Moon”, a teenage boy, Luis, who had been running with the entirely wrong crowd is let out of a juvenile hall on the simulation that he will labor for his father at his junkyard for the remaining six months of his original sentence. Luis began making bad choices after his mother died three years before. Once his mother died he began to not get along with his father even though his father gave him a job at his junkyard.
He does not appreciate his father’s junkyard business and considers him pathetic because he won’t let go of anything that pertains to his wife that passed away.
Luis’s situation remains unchanged until he meets Naomi, a stunning young woman who needs Luis’s help finding the right hubcap for her Volkswagen. Unknown to Luis, Naomi’s family owns the funeral home where his mother’s funeral was held.
This, along with Naomi’s wholesomeness, brings back Luis’s memories of his mother, because she always told him how proud she was of him, even when Luis did nothing. His mother’s words of kindness and encouragement cause Luis to have a revelation; he breaks down and begins to see things in an entirely different way.
Luis drives to the junkyard late one night, climbs up on his mountain of hubcaps, and, “by lamppost light”, begins what he refers to as the “treasure hunt” for the “moon-shaped wheel cover” for Naomi’s car. He “sorted the wheel covers by make, size, and condition, stopping only to call his father and tell him where he was and what he was doing. ” When finally Luis found the perfect match for Naomi’s VW, he washed and polished it, then on an oak branch outside her window, hung it, “the first good thing he had given to anyone in a long time” (239-240). During Luis’s late night search for Naomi’s perfect hubcap he became closer to his father.
He realized that doing “something that had a beginning, middle, and an end” (239) has a overpowering effect on people. He realized the reason why his father had been keeping so busy the past three years was because of his mother. Luis made a promise to lend a hand to his father more often; he even promised himself he would construct a display wall for his father’s junkyard, the same business he used to hate. The love Luis’s mother had for both Luis and his father became their strength even after she was gone; it just took Luis a longer time to realize this.
In Wetherell’s “The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant,” the narrator also has an internal struggle in the beginning. Sheila Mant, the girl next door, becomes the narrator’s object of infatuation. He eventually gets the courage to ask her out to a local dance, and offers to take her there in his small fishing canoe. On the way, he discovers that Sheila is strongly against fishing; she considers it “definitely dumb. ” Just then, his rod that he had cast habitually before picking her up, bends double: “The line, tightly coiled, [peels] off the spool with the shrill, tearing zip of a high-speed drill” (247).
The narrator doesn’t want Sheila too think anything bad of him because he likes fishing. So, “through a superhuman effort of self-control,” the narrator cuts the line “with a sick, nauseous feeling in [his] stomach” and continue to the dance with Sheila (249). The dance is all a fog for the narrator; the only event he remembers clearly is Sheila approaching him afterwards to inform him that she would be leaving with Eric Caswell in his Corvette. Throughout his entire canoe ride, the narrator was faced with an internal dilemma. He loved to fish, but he thought he loved Sheila more.
It would be great if he could reel in perhaps the biggest bass he had ever hooked, but then again, it would be great if Sheila Mant, the gorgeous girl next door who was three years older than him, came to love him. There were two paths the narrator could have taken, and he made his decision. What he didn’t know was that Sheila would end up leaving him anyway. He realizes that his love for Sheila was only temporary because “the spell she cast over [him] was gone before the month was over. ” The narrator still regrets his decision; he states that “the memory of that lost bass haunted me all summer and haunts me still”.
Even after losing what he thought was the love of his life, the narrator’s love for fishing gave him strength in the years to come. He “never made the same mistake again” (250). Love can do many things. It can be both harmful and beneficial. Love can scar, and love can inspire. Love can torment, and love can encourage. Love can irritate, and love can comfort. The unseen force of love can go even further than that, though. Love can strengthen. This is seen through both main characters in Cofer’s “Catch the Moon” and Wetherell’s “The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant”.