Study Guide

The Moths Tone

By Helena Maria Viramontes

Tone

Crunchy on the Outside, Smooth on the Inside

No, we're not describing a candy bar (though it sounds delicious); we're talking tone. In "The Moths," the narrator's attitude is tough; she doesn't take guff from anybody and generally acts like nothing bugs her. Check it out:

The chiles made my eyes water. Am I crying? No, Mama Luna, I'm sure not crying. (9)

This passage comes on the heels of domestic violence, but the narrator insists the tears in her eyes are only due to some hot chiles. The tough exterior she shows her family is oftentimes what we as readers get to see, too—she's a tough nut to crack, our narrator is. However, she's actually a softy underneath that exterior. This comes out in her descriptions of her grandmother's care:

[I]t was the strangest feeling. Like bones melting. Like sun shining through the darkness of your eyelids. (3)

Those similes let us know that the narrator does have feelings after all, much as she'd like to punch us in the face for even thinking so. Otherwise the her grandmother's healing touch wouldn't feel "like sun shining through the darkness."

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