Family, Catharsis, and Self-Realization in Viramontes' "The Moths"

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Family, Catharsis, and Self-Realization in Viramontes’ “The Moths” Most people believe that it is inevitable for children to grow up and be just like their parents, even though they may have disagreed with the discipline and vowed to never be like them. Naturally, the way we are raised is the way we will raise our children. It is our human nature as adults to do things the way our parents taught us, which they learned from their parents, and their parents from theirs. However, carrying traditions down the generations or not is a choice that we all make as adults. Helena Maria Viramontes uses family, catharsis, and self-realization to show that we can learn from our upbringing and ultimately change as an individual. Viramontes’ short story, “The Moths”, argues that family traits, both negative and positive, are passed on naturally during childhood and into parenting. Also, the story argues that death in the family is a cathartic event when we search for emotional healing and understanding. Finally, the story argues that a tragic loss leads to self-realization, and fulfillment of our individual potential. Viramontes’ story argues both negative and positive family traits are naturally passed down simply because that is how we are raised. It’s clear from the beginning that the narrator is deeply cared for by her Abuelita who had already seen her through “…several whippings, an arm broken… puberty, and my first lie”, and she believes caring for her Abuelita through her sickness “was only fair” (Viramontes 1). Being cared for as a child makes her feel a natural obligation to return the same compassion and effort. Her Abuelita passed down such a positive trait because she never gave up on the narrator and showed her that she was not alone and it’s important to be kind. Although, the negative family traits also have the same effect and further signify who she is. The narrator discovered why whippings were her mother’s choice of discipline as she saw “the scars on...
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