(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

The Moths, and Other Stories focuses on the lives of Chicana women of various ages and backgrounds. The women in Helena María Viramontes’ stories often face identity crises—they struggle with religion, adolescence, sexuality, family, and aging.

“The Moths” narrates the growth of a fourteen-year-old girl who cares for her grandmother. The grandmother’s home is a refuge for the young woman, whose home is ruled by her father. When her grandmother dies, the girl laments the loss of a strong female figure who has helped shape her identity. “Growing” also focuses on a young Chicana woman who struggles with adolescence. Fifteen-year-old Naomi looks forward to her first date until her parents make her take along her little sister Lucia as a chaperone. Naomi insists that dating is “different” in America, but her parents insist on their own customs and Naomi wonders about the difficulties of growing up in a new country.

In the stories focusing on young women Viramontes raises the issues of religion, reproduction, and marriage. In “Birthday” a young, unmarried woman struggles over her decision to abort a child. “The Broken Web” focuses on a young woman and her struggles with repressed family memories. Martita learns that her father, Tomas, beat and cheated on her mother, and that her mother finally snapped and killed Tomas. “The Broken Web” shows a young woman dealing with the violence of her childhood. In “The...

(The entire section is 462 words.)