The narrator, Junior—perhaps Junior Polatkin, but, as Victor once pointed out, “everybody” on the reservation is called Junior—pretends to sleep on the sofa while his mother quilts. Junior’s mother tells him that his stories are too sad. She points out that nobody in real life cries as much as the people in her son’s stories; he says that “nobody laughs as much, either.” Junior’s mother tells him that he should “write a story about something good, because people should know that good things happen to Indians too.” Junior offers to tell his mother a good story, if she will listen.
This story is a meta-narrative in which Alexie seems, through Junior’s mother, to be pointing out the heaviness of the themes that run throughout his own stories. She implores her son to highlight the positive aspects of the Native American experience, and to ensure that “people know” the full spectrum of the lives Native people lead.
Junior begins to tell his story, about a man named Uncle Moses—perhaps Moses Morningdove. Moses sits in a chair eating a sandwich, humming a pleasant song. He is on the porch “in front of the house he built himself fifty years before,” a house that “would stand years after Moses died, held up by tribal imagination.”
The interconnectedness of Alexie’s characters is highlighted by the introduction of Uncle Moses, as is the power and importance of tribal imagination.
Moses watches as a boy named Arnold runs across the field toward his house. Arnold is pale and large, and, though teased by the other children, is “the best basketball player in the reservation grade school.” Moses thinks of the words “We are all given something to compensate for what we have lost.” Moses greets Arnold as he approaches his porch, and Arnold reveals that he did not accompany the rest of his class on a field trip to Spokane in order to spend time with Moses. Arnold asks Moses to tell him a story, and Moses “sits down in the story chair and [tells] this very story.”
Arnold, who may or may not be Victor’s uncle, is, similar to Julius, Victor, and Lucy: a beacon of hope as a basketball star. While Moses contemplates loss, Arnold’s arrival and the revelation that he skipped a fun trip in order to spend time with Moses and hear one of his stories signals a hopeful sense of community and devotion to storytelling and imagination.
Junior’s mother hums a song and continues sewing. Junior asks her if she liked the story; in reply, she sings “ a little louder.” Junior considers the impending change in the weather, but decides that it is “in the future,” and that “today [he] will drink what [he] has, eat what is left in the cupboard, while [his] mother finishes her quilt. Believe me,” Junior says, “there is just barely enough goodness in all of this.”
The importance of appreciating the gifts of the present, and of seizing upon moments of goodness in the face of such frequent, devastating loss, is underscored in the story’s final passages.