Helena María Viramontes Analysis

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

What is the role that institutions, such as government, church, and family, play in the fiction of Helena María Viramontes?

How do protagonists find their identity in the stories of Viramontes—through traditional assimilation into these institutions or through resistance and rebellion?

What is coming-of-age like for Viramontes’s young protagonists?

What role does gender play in these stories? Social class? Ethnicity?

What characterizes the structure and style of Viramontes’s stories?

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Helena María Viramontes is the author of Under the Feet of Jesus, a novel that she dedicated to the memory of civil rights activist César Chávez. She coedited with María Herrera-Sobek two anthologies, Chicana Creativity and Criticism: Creative Frontiers in American Literature and Chicana (W)rites: On Word and Film (1995).


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Helena María Viramontes won a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1989 and received the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature for 1995.


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Carbonell, Ana Maria. “From Llarona to Gritona: Coatlicue in Feminist Tales by Viramontes and Cisneros.” MELUS 24 (Summer, 1999): 53-74. Analyzes the representations of the Mexican goddess Coatlicue and the folkloric figure of the wailing ghost La Llarona in the works of Mexican American women writers Viramontes and Sandra Cisneros.

Green, Carol Hurd, and Mary Grimley Mason. American Women Writers. New York: Continuum, 1994, 463-465. The editors provide a brief biographical sketch as well as an analysis of the short stories in Moths. They emphasize the portrayal of Chicana women with their strengths and weaknesses as they struggle with the restrictions placed on them because they are women. They note that many of the characters pay a price for rebelling against traditional values.

Moore, Deborah Owen. “La Llarona Dines at the Cariboo Cafe: Structure and Legend in the Works of Helena María Viramontes.” Studies in Short Fiction 35 (Summer, 1998): 277-286. Contrasts the distant and close-up narrative perspectives in Viramontes’s work.

Richards, Judith. “Chicano Creativity and Criticism: New Frontiers in American Literature.” College Literature 25 (Spring, 1998): 182. In this review of the anthology edited by Viramontes and María Herrera-Sobek, Richards argues that the book...

(The entire section is 468 words.)