Rebuilding the Self: A Study of ‘Catch the Moon’

Table of Content

In Judith Ortiz Cofer’s poignant short story, “Catch the Moon,” readers embark on a journey of healing, forgiveness, and transformation. Using the humble backdrop of a junkyard, Cofer crafts a tale that is as much about the intricacies of familial relationships as it is about personal redemption. This essay delves into the narrative, examining the intricate interplay of its themes and how they resonate with the universal human experience.

A Junkyard of Emotions: Setting as a Mirror to the Soul

At first glance, the junkyard seems an unlikely place for profound realizations. However, much like the protagonist, Luis, it is a place in desperate need of sorting and understanding. As Luis ventures into the labyrinth of discarded memories, he confronts not just car parts but fragmented pieces of his own past and identity.

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Luis’s Evolution From Defiance to Redemption. Luis starts as a typical rebellious teenager, trying to grapple with his mother’s death and his strained relationship with his father. His act of vandalism, which leads to his sentencing of helping in the family junkyard, becomes a metaphorical journey of confronting his feelings of anger, loss, and guilt. The act of searching for a hubcap, though simple, becomes his path to redemption.

The Power of Love and Memory: Naomi’s Role

Naomi isn’t just a love interest; she represents a beacon of hope and a catalyst for Luis’s transformation. The story reveals that moments of tenderness and understanding can often be the balm needed to heal old wounds. Her request for the hubcap, a memento of her deceased mother, resonates deeply with Luis, forcing him to confront his own grief and the memory of his mother.

Rebuilding Bridges. The strained relationship between Luis and his father is central to the story. Their shared grief over a lost loved one creates a chasm between them. Yet, it is through the mutual act of remembering and the shared task in the junkyard that they begin to rebuild their bond. The junkyard serves as neutral ground, a place where they can rebuild their relationship one piece at a time.


“Catch the Moon” is more than just a tale of teenage rebellion; it is a deeply emotional exploration of loss, love, and reconciliation. Judith Ortiz Cofer uses the symbolic landscape of a junkyard to craft a story that delves into the complexities of the human heart. Each discarded item in the yard carries a history, much like the memories and emotions we tuck away. Through Luis’s journey, readers are reminded of the transformative power of love and the importance of confronting and embracing the past. In the end, it isn’t just about catching the moon, but understanding and accepting oneself, flaws and all. And examining the intricate interplay of its themes and how they resonate.


  1. Cofer, J.O. “An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio”, Orchard Books, 1995.
  2. Flores, R. “The Power of Voice: Narratives by Latin American Women”, University of Texas Press, 1999.
  3. Rivera, T. “Conversations with Contemporary Chicana and Chicano Writers”, University of New Mexico Press, 2007.

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Rebuilding the Self: A Study of ‘Catch the Moon’. (2023, Aug 09). Retrieved from

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