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Megan Mayhew Bergman is able to take a seemingly average life and twist it into an incredible emotional struggle. In “Night Hunting,” the narrator is a teenage girl who is trying to come to terms with the fact that her mother is dying of breast cancer. Throughout the story, Hannah is caught between having to be strong for her mother and being a scared, little girl who not only fears her mother’s death, but also being lonely afterwards. She catches herself adding things like “when I’m gone” to the end of her mother’s sentences, and though this is morbid, it is a reality that she will soon have to face. Bergman shows Hannah’s rebellious side when she thinks about going after the much older, survivalist Erik Sanderson. One thing that Hannah likes about him is his strength, which her mother is losing more and more of daily. He could be there to protect her from the harsh Vermont wilderness when her mother dies, but deep down, she knows he is too old for her and that she probably wouldn’t go against her mother’s wishes. Most of the other characters in the story are stronger than her mother, who has “dark circles around her eyes, hollowed-out cheeks, and thinning hair” (Bergman 151).

Even Millie Banks, who fought off a cougar when she was seventeen and is now one hundred years old. Hannah wished she could “siphon off a handful of her years and giver them to [her] mom”, which shows the level of worry and concern that is deeply ingrained in her mind. She cannot go more than a few minutes without thinking about her mother and how this disease has ravaged their lives. Bergman is able to convey Hannah’s adolescence through her jokes about coyotes, in reference to the time that one attacked her mother. Her mother still has the scars on her leg, like Millie, only she doesn’t show them to the world because she is still terrified of the coyotes. Hannah makes jokes in order to cover up the fact that she is terrified of losing her mother to cancer. Bergman parallels the food chain in nature to diseases when Hannah says “the best predators, I realized, had no empathy”. Cancer does not care about the effect it will have on Hannah when her mother dies. It does not care that it is feeding off of her mothers strength and youth, stealing her life, making it an ultimate predator. Hannah realizes in the end that the white coyote had more in common with her mother, than the cancer that had stolen her mother’s life without provocation. The coyote would have done anything to protect her young from danger and Hannah’s mother was doing the same thing. By moving to Pawlet,  closer to the grandparents, she ensured that her daughter would not be alone after her death.

One Response to “What Goes Bump in the Night”

  1. Khirtsen: Thanks so much for this eloquent post.