June in Fiction

Origins and Symbols of “June”

Most sources indicate that the month of June took its name from the Latin word “iuniores,” which means “young people” or from the name of the goddess Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage. Pearls and roses are associated with the month of June, thus brides often wear pearls and carry rose bouquets. Historically, most marriages occurred in June but recently September has garnered first place in the USA with June trailing only one percent behind. Common sayings about June weddings include: “Oh, they say when you marry in June, you’re a bride all your life, and the bridegroom who marries in June gets a sweetheart for a wife.” and “Marry when June roses grow, over land and sea you’ll go.” My husband and I did marry in June. Happily, both sayings resonate with our life together.

How Authors Use “June” in Their Fiction

In The Plot, by Jean Hanff Korelitz, on p. 7, the author describes the main character during a cold wet June, as having “mud on his shoes,” indicating that he is taking the wrong path.

In The Red Dirt Hymnbook (which won the 2020 Willa Literary Award in Original Softcover Fiction) by Roxie Faulkner Kirk, June is a time for dancing, “Maybe it was Leland’s encouragement. Or the relief of knowing that I wasn’t that far behind, after all. Or maybe it was the bumper crop of stars overhead, which have been known to make people way crazier than that on an Oklahoma June night…. Leland and I danced …until we just went plain nuts to whatever the DJ in Dodge City gave us.”

In Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy refers to the month of June eight times while he mentions the other months not at all or at most three times. He focuses on the month of June partially because of the warm weather but also because of the feast of St Peter which is an important date in the Eastern Orthodox tradition and subsequently brings people together for celebrations: “Towards the end of May, when everything had been more or less satisfactorily arranged, she received her husband’s answer to her complaints of the disorganized state of things in the country. He wrote begging her forgiveness for not having thought of everything before and promised to come down at the first chance. This chance did not present itself, and till the beginning of June Darya Alexandrovna stayed alone in the country…. On the Sunday in St. Peter’s week Darya Alexandrovna drove to mass for all her children to take the sacrament.”

In the next four examples, Tolstoy uses June to tie part of the story to a historical moment: “But to the prince the brightness and gaiety of the June morning, and the sound of the orchestra playing a gay waltz then in fashion, and above all, the appearance of the healthy attendants, seemed something unseemly and monstrous, in conjunction with these slowly moving, dying figures gathered together from all parts of Europe.”

“Early in June it happened that Agafea Mihalovna, the old nurse and housekeeper, in carrying to the cellar a jar of mushrooms she had just pickled, slipped, fell, and sprained her wrist. The district doctor, a talkative young medical student, who had just finished his studies, came to see her. He examined the wrist, said it was not broken, was delighted at a chance of talking to the celebrated Sergey Ivanovitch Koznishev, and to show his advanced views of things told him all the scandal of the district, complaining of the poor state into which the district council had fallen.”

“Alexey Alexandrovitch’s characteristic quality as a politician, that special individual qualification that every rising functionary possesses, the qualification that with his unflagging ambition, his reserve, his honesty, and with his self-confidence had made his career, was his contempt for red tape, his cutting down of correspondence, his direct contact, wherever possible, with the living fact, and his economy. It happened that the famous Commission of the 2nd of June had set on foot an inquiry into the irrigation of lands in the Zaraisky province, which fell under Alexey Alexandrovitch’s department, and was a glaring example of fruitless expenditure and paper reforms”.

“The question of the Native Tribes had been brought up incidentally in the Commission of the 2nd of June, and had been pressed forward actively by Alexey Alexandrovitch as one admitting of no delay on account of the deplorable condition of the native tribes.”

In the following examples, Tolstoy writes at a level of departmental detail: “…another new scientific commission should be appointed to investigate the deplorable condition of the native tribes from the—(1) political, (2) administrative, (3) economic, (4) ethnographical, (5) material, and (6) religious points of view; thirdly, that evidence should be required from the rival department of the measures that had been taken during the last ten years by that department for averting the disastrous conditions in which the native tribes were now placed; and fourthly and finally, that that department explain why it had, as appeared from the evidence before the committee, from No. 17,015 and 18,038, from December 5, 1863, and June 7, 1864, acted in direct contravention of the intent of the law T… Act 18, and the note to Act 36.”

“On Monday there was the usual sitting of the Commission of the 2nd of June. Alexey Alexandrovitch walked into the hall where the sitting was held, greeted the members and the president, as usual, and sat down in his place, putting his hand on the papers laid ready before him. Among these papers lay the necessary evidence and a rough outline of the speech he intended to make.”

And, in this eighth example, Tolstoy returns to June as a symbol of home: “When Levin thought what he was and what he was living for, he could find no answer to the questions and was reduced to despair, but he left off questioning himself about it.…When he went back to the country at the beginning of June, he went back also to his usual pursuits. The management of the estate, his relations with the peasants and the neighbors, the care of his household, the management of his sister’s and brother’s property, of which he had the direction, his relations with his wife and kindred, the care of his child, and the new bee-keeping hobby he had taken up that spring, filled all his time.”

June in My Fiction

While in my fiction, I do focus on various months, particularly those with holidays, I have not yet created a scene that occurs in June. However, June in Colorado is often cool and rainy and the beginning of growing time, whereas in Tolstoy’s novel, he describes a warm summer season in June. Seasons vary by latitude.

My Writing Goals for 2022

Publish my second book of poetry:

My poetry collection now contains another eclipse poem because my husband and I watched the full lunar eclipse in May from our perch in the foothills of Colorado. Our view and the celestial display were magnificent. This manuscript still needs work before I send it off to my poetry editor.

Finish, request feedback, and send my first novel out for review:

This month, I worked on dividing the story into fourths.

Continue to work on my other novels:

I sent 1863 words of my manuscript to my critique group for comments.

Continue to develop a network of kindred spirits in the world of writing and publishing:

Boulder Writers Alliance: Our BWA Poetry Circle is growing. I co-presented one workshop on performance/social justice poetry with a local performance poet, Gregory Seth Harris. I also held a Steering Committee meeting.

Denver Women’s Press Club: I read the newsletter and paid my dues for the upcoming year.

Women Writing the West: Our critique group met to discuss our draft pages. I also followed some conversations in the WWW listserv.

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers:  I read the newsletter and listened to a podcast about the upcoming conference keynoters presented by the conference co-leaders. I also paid my dues for the coming year.

Document my writing progress through my blog and post it on the seventh day of each month, one blog per month in 2022:
Today is June 7, 2022, I am posting my sixth blog of 2022, marking the halfway point of the year. It has been fascinating to research the meaning, symbolism, and holidays that occur each month. Rereading Tolstoy made me pay better attention to the versatility of symbols and months of the year.

Today in History: Gwendolyn Brooks, the poet who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1950 and who published the novel Maud Martha in 1953, was born on June 7, 1917.

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