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 experience. She then admits to beginning serious study of the bugs, using a text a friend gives her, and she reaches new understanding of the orderliness of the insects’ physical nature. Noting this new knowledge and her mixed feelings, she is no longer disgusted with the orderly insects but believes that they are still not a fit subject of a woman’s interest.
Despite the internal conflict, the narrator admits that her life has been fundamentally changed by studying the bugs. She develops new insight into human reality by analogizing human behavior to that of the bugs, for example, that humans tend to love the external, physical person rather than the intangible, spiritual qualities, with the human body analogous to the empty, dry shells of the dead bugs. She also develops new energy and enthusiasm, as well...
(The entire section contains 561 words.)
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