(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The first-person narrator was once a typical homemaker, terrified by the fast-moving roaches in the family’s previous house and concerned only with her motherly and wifely duties. Then she notices the dead bugs that appear daily on the living-room carpet, and as self-punishment for mistreating the children one evening, she forces herself to examine the bugs carefully.

Initially, she reacts predictably and normally, in her opinion, by withdrawing in disgust from the ugly insects. Strongly and unaccountably to her, however, she later begins to study the bugs in intimate detail, noting their shape, color, appendages, and the subtle differences between the adult and nymph bugs—slightly different size, degree of transparency of their legs, and color. At this stage, she seems to examine them because they daily intrude into and disrupt the meticulously closed and orderly life she leads. Later, however, she becomes very curious about them, especially about how they move when alive because she never sees one alive. Her dilemma begins when she feels disgust about her own interest, saying the study of bugs is not for a woman.

She vacillates throughout the story between intense interest in the bugs and embarrassment about her interest, but with the interest becoming fascination and her embarrassment steadily lessening. She admits later that the bugs are interesting because they are a novel experience, and acknowledges her gratitude for this...

(The entire section is 561 words.)