The Moths

by Helena María Viramontes

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What lesson did the narrator learn while bathing her grandmother in "The Moths"?

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The narrator was an odd child and even disrespectful by her admission. She was in constant conflict with her family. Her sisters would chide her for her inability to participate in feminine activities, her father whipped her for her rebellious nature and her mother was constantly worried that she’d get into trouble. Her mother decided to send the narrator over to her grandmother’s place so she could help the aging and dying woman but also to stay out of trouble. The narrator took this responsibility and spent much of her time with Abuelita, her grandmother. While there, she learned about gardening and how to pot and transplant the seedlings to her grandmother’s garden. The narrator’s grandmother was also suffering from cancer which took a toll on her, finally restricting her to her bed staring out the window. One day while the narrator was outside, her grandmother passed on. The narrator came into the house and bathed her grandmother. While bathing her grandmother and reflecting about her own life, the narrator learned a number of things;

She learned that dying is lonely because it separated her from her grandmother.

Dying is lonely and I wanted to go to where the moths were, stay with her and plant chayotes whose vines would crawl up her fingers and into the clouds

She learned the importance of maintaining the bond with her mother and family.

I wanted. I wanted my Ama.

She also came to terms with her personal issues that caused her sadness.

The bathroom was filled with moths, and for the first time in a long time I cried, rocking us, crying for her, for me, for Ama, the sobs emerging from the depths of anguish, the misery of feeling half born, sobbing until finally the sobs rippled into circles and circles of sadness and relief. .

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