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The short story "the moths" was written by Helena Maria Viramontes. The story looks into the struggles and challenges that women have to contend with to overcome the isolation brought by culture, church and family especially the struggle to stay true to their cultural values. Two women play the central roles: an older woman, Abuelita, and her granddaughter. The story's focus is on the various challenges through life: from childhood, through adulthood and the inevitable challenges of aging and old age that precede death and subsequent rebirth.

Especially, the story appreciates the spiritual maturity the grandchild undergoes while staying with her grandmother. The author also presents the strengths and the challenges of traditional and modern culture and illustrates the conflict that results from the interaction of the two cultures. The literary point of view refers who is, or from what angle the story is being told. It is the perspective of the narrative voice. The point of view fundamentally affects how the story is told and will determine how interesting or disinteresting the story will be.


In the story "the moths" the author uses first person to narrate the story. The narrator has first hand experiences with the challenges of strictness in the family and her ensuing   rebellion, her care for her ailing grandmother, and the mystical moth lessons that make her mature spiritually, and her recount is vivid and captivating. The challenges encountered by the narrator to bring about the themes of isolation, mysticism, death and rebirth strongly attract the empathy of the reader.

The central idea in the story is isolation, death and rebirth. The narrator, from her own experience, depicts her inability to do embroidery work, the derision from her sisters, calling her "bull hands", her father's strictness that she should go to church coupled with her rebellion, culminates in her being isolated and is sent to help her grandmother. The grand mother is also isolated. Her grand mother uses the mystical potato slices and moths to cure her illnesses. She says, "Abuelita had pulled me through the rages of scarlet fever by placing, removing and replacing potato slices on the temples of my head", and , "Abuelita  made balm out of dried moth wings and Vicks and rubbed my hands, shaped them back to size". The narrator finds solace in her grandmother and tries to appreciate, though with struggle, the mystic powers behind the moths. She passionately takes care of her grandmother until she dies.

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Admittedly, the narrator says about death and rebirth that, "although the endings are inevitable, they are necessary for rebirths". At the end of the story, the narrator witnesses moths come from her grandmother's "soul and out through the mouth fluttering to light", signifying rebirth. In the narrator's life, her appreciation of her grandmother's death, mystic beliefs, coupled with the narrator's diminished rebellion signifies rebirth. This has all been achieved through first person narration.  The tone and feel of the story attracts the empathy of the audience. This style powerfully outlines the themes of the main characters and thus the intended message is passed.

The narrator, being a woman, uses her position to highlight the plight of women. The strict nature of her father, "He would grab my hand and dig his nails into me to ensure that I understood the meaning of catechism," suggests use of force on matters of faith. She also highlights the position women are given in her society when she says, "crying for her, for me, for Ama, the sobs emerging from the depths of anguish, the misery of feeling half born". The act of the narrator being part of the problems directly challenges the readers to identify with her, and to take action against such problems, if they are prevalent in their societies. 

The use of first person clearly depicts the theme of isolation and death.  The narrator was sent to her grandmother. Says the narrator, "this was to avoid another fight and another whipping, I knew", and "I just couldn't do the girl things they could do", showing that she was isolated to avoid conflict and also because she could not do embroidery like her sisters. On death, she says, "but this was a different kind of help, Ama said, because Abuelita was dying", and also compares life with the sun and talks of, " that hour, or minute or second when the sun is finally defeated, finally sinks into the realization that it cannot with all its power to heal or burn exist forever". Here, the narrator brings out death as a process

Had the author used a different point of view, for example, third person point of view, in which the narrator does not participate but tells what the characters feel, the empathic nature of the story could have been lost. The use of first person 'I' brings the reader closer and makes the reader to easily identify with the narrator as he participates in the story. The main problems and the resultant themes would have sounded distant and formal. First person narration, while highlighting issues affecting people in the setting of the story, appeals to other people facing the same challenges elsewhere.

In conclusion, the use of the first person point of view in Viramontes   short story "the moths", boldly outlines, not only the themes but also vividly and attractively involves the reader in the experiences that bring about these themes. The involvement of the narrator in the story makes her the center of focus to the reader.  In no better way could the themes of isolation, death and rebirth be told, but through the experience of the narrator. More so, being a woman, she boldly and successfully illustrates the plight women in her society face in their quest to stick to their cultural values, which are in conflict with the infiltrating western culture.

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