The progression from adolescence to adulthood is one of the most complicated periods in one’s life. Naïveté and inexperience become insecurities, and the expectations a family places on children sometimes overwhelm their desire to thrive. Although society likes to paint pictures of perfect family relationships and what they are expected to be, they are more often riddled with trials and tribulations that do not always have a happy ending. “The Moths” by Helena María Viramontes and “Saving Sourdi” by May-lee Chai are prime examples of youth struggling to achieve acceptance. In “The Moths”, the narrator realizes that she does not satisfy her family’s expectations, but she is not willing to relent to the pressure they put on her to conform. As a result, she embraces a rebellious attitude and counters with violence to her sister’s constant ridicule: “. . . my sisters laughed and called me bull hands with their cute waterlike voices. So I began keeping a piece of jagged brick in my sock to bash my sisters or anyone who called me bull hands” (168). As expected, her father responds with whippings and her mother simply sends her to Mama Luna’s to “avoid another fight and another whipping” (168). What she saw as a personal moral decision her family saw as unbecoming behavior. Her father “would pound his hands on the table, rocking the sugar dish or spilling a cup of coffee and scream that if I didn’t go to Mass every Sunday to save my goddamn sinning soul, then I had no reason to go out of the house, period. Punto final” (169). On top of these
Hardships, the narrator is also dealing with an image problem and feels like she “isn’t even pretty or nice like [her] older sisters and just couldn’t do the girl things they could do” (168). Nea, from May-lee Chai’s “Saving Sourdi”, has multiple conflicts as well. Nea seems to be dealing with a similar image issue as the narrator from the other story: “She was smooth where I had angles and soft where I was bone. ....
Cited: Meyer, Michael, Ed. The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature. 4th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press 2005.
Chai, May-lee. “Saving Sourdi.” Meyer, 110-123.
Viramontes, Helena María. “The Moths.” Meyer, 168-171.
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