A Moon for the Misbegotten Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 20 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of A Moon for the Misbegotten.
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A Moon for the Misbegotten Summary & Study Guide Description

A Moon for the Misbegotten Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on A Moon for the Misbegotten by Eugene O'Neill.

A Moon for the Misbegotten was written in 1943 by Nobel Laureate Eugene O'Neil. It is commonly thought of as a continuation of the play Long Day's Journey into Night, written two years prior. The character of Jim is modeled after O'Neil's brother Jamie, who died November 1923, two months after the play takes place.

The play begins as Mike, the youngest Hogan son, runs away from home as his brothers had done before him, with the help of his older sister Josie. Their mother died giving birth to Mike, and now that he is twenty, he can no longer tolerate his father's domineering ways. Only Josie is equipped to stand up to him.

When Josie's father, Phil Hogan, learns that his son Mike has run away, Josie is able to calm him down. He is impressed for a brief moment, having thought Mike incapable of having the pluck. He also covers any emotions he may have about the loss by saying he never liked Mike anyway.

Josie tells her father Mike's suspicion that she and Hogan were concocting a scheme to get Jim Tyrone, their landlord, to marry Josie. She thinks it insulting and preposterous, but it stirs her father's imagination. Also, Hogan has concerns that Jim will sell the farm once his mother's estate is settled, but Josie has every faith that Jim will honor his word. Jim then stops by for a visit. He tells Josie and her father their millionaire neighbor Harder will be stopping by, because he has discovered that Hogan has been breaking the fence between Hogan's pig pen and Harder's ice pond. Since the neighbors have never met, Hogan and Josie look forward to the opportunity.

When Harder arrives he is clearly out of his element and not used to the rough banter he encounters. He'd expected respect shown to him and he encounters no such thing. Hogan beats him to the punch, telling Harder how horrible it is that Harder keeps breaking Hogan's fence- a fence that Hogan mends every morning. He then sends Harder off his property. Jim, who has been hiding in the house all this time, rejoins Hogan and Josie. He flirts with Josie and they make a date for later in the evening.

Later that night, two hours past the appointed time of the date, Jim has not shown and Josie is deeply disappointed. Her father comes home from the inn unusually drunk and unusually early. He is despondent. He tells Josie Jim is selling the farm to their neighbor Harder. At first Josie cannot believe it but she must face the facts. She jumps into action to save their farm, concocting a plan to Lure Jim to the house, get him drunk, have him pass out, and then for him to get caught in bed with her. The shame for Jim would be so great that he would do anything to keep the discovery secret.

Soon enough, though, Jim arrives at the house on his own. He is late for the date but he has shown up after all. As part of the new plan, Hogan leaves so Josie can be alone with Jim. She and Jim talk, and as the hours wear on it becomes clear that Jim is not selling the farm to Harder- he had been kidding around and her father had known it. It also becomes clear that Jim and Josie share love for each other but Jim is dead inside. He has not been the same since his mother's death, drinking himself to oblivion, even missing his mother's funeral. His guilt is eating away at him. He is so damaged he cannot be saved. Jim receives comfort and forgiveness as he cries on Josie's breast, and he falls asleep against her. With a heavy heart Josie realizes that she will not see him again.

At dawn, Hogan returns. Josie is upset with him for having schemed for her to become close with Jim but he explains it wasn't about the money; he wanted her to be happy. He goes inside and Josie wakes Jim. At first he remembers nothing from the previous night but when he does remember, he is full of shame. Josie convinces him it is not shameful to receive love. They kiss goodbye, professing their love for each other but knowing they will never see each other again.

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