Explain how to write an essay which discusses the idea of helping the elderly in "The Moths."

When writing an essay discussing the idea of helping the elderly as exemplified in the short story "The Moths," three points can be emphasized. These include the motivations for helping the elderly, the tasks involved in assisting elderly people, and the sincere grief that helpers feel when their elderly loved ones die.

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The short story "The Moths" is narrated by a 14-year-old girl who does not get along with the other members of her family. Her parents frequently punish her, and she fights with her sisters. The only person whose company she enjoys is her elderly grandmother. As her grandmother becomes sicker and sicker from cancer, the narrator continues to care for her, and when her grandmother dies, she is heartbroken. When you write an essay about helpers for the elderly based on this short story, there are several points to keep in mind.

First of all, you should consider the narrator's motivation. She feels unhappy and out of place at home. She does not consider herself as attractive as her sisters, and she is often scolded and beaten by her parents. Her grandmother, Abuelita, however, accepts her as she is, enjoys her company, and collaborates with her on various household projects. She makes the narrator feel "safe and guarded and not alone. Like God was supposed to make you feel." Because of her affinity with her grandmother, her mother asks the narrator to tend to Abuelita when she becomes terminally ill with cancer. We see that the narrator is strongly motivated to assist her grandmother, even though it takes time and is sometimes messy, out of sincere love.

You can also write about the various tasks that the narrator performs in service to her grandmother. These are similar tasks to those any helper would need to perform for elderly people who are sick. They include rubbing down her body, toweling her face, turning her face to the window so she can look outside, keeping her company by holding her hand, shopping, cooking, feeding her, and cleaning the house.

Another important aspect of the story to write about is the very real grief that the narrator feels when her grandmother dies. People observing from the outside may think that helpers of the elderly would feel relief when they die, the helpers no longer having to spend time caring for them. However, the narrator's time and effort is spent out of real love, and when her grandmother dies, she is devastated. She wants to "return to the waters of the womb with her so that we would never be alone again." She empathizes with her grandmother's loneliness in death and wishes she could share it. When loving helpers assist elderly people who are dying, there is no escape from the eventual grief.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 23, 2021
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