University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Analysis of Central Idea in Helena Maria Viramontes’ “The Moths”
The short story “The Moths” by Helena Maria ViraMontes is the story of a Latina granddaughter reminiscing about her relationships between herself and family, most specifically with her grandmother, when the narrator was a teenage girl. The narrator speaks about the indifference she felt among her sisters because she feels she was not pretty enough and could not “do the girl things they could do” (ViraMontes 1118.) Furthermore she expresses that she is always in trouble and she is used to getting punished for her disruptiveness. She spends her time watching over her grandmother since her grandmother has always watched over her. Throughout the story, the grandmother progressively becomes more and more ill with cancer, while the grandaughter becomes more and more emotionally, and productively responsible.
Finally the cancer kills the grandmother, and the granddaughter continues to take care of her, undressing her and washing her in the tub, as she holds her and rocks her back and forth. At this point, moths are released from the grandmother; the moths which the grandmother told the granddaughter “lay within the soul and slowly eat the spirit up” (ViraMontes 1121.) The granddaughter cries and sobs in the tub with her grandmother until her sadness transformed into relief. Later the granddaughter talks about the sun and how it cannot shine forever. It must disappear in order to reappear for the next day. She also notices that “endings are inevitable” (ViraMontes 1121) and it is necessary to be reborn. After the grandmother has passed, on the granddaughter who felt so distant from her mother, now longs to be with her, to establish a new relationship was born from the death of an old one. Therefore during emotionally challenging times, we must all be able to let our guard down, be vulnerable, and allow our emotions to own us in order to obtain peace in one’s life.