Study Guide

The Moths Violence

By Helena Maria Viramontes

Violence

Put up your dukes, Shmoopers, because "The Moths" packs quite a punch. The narrator herself is quite the fighter, fashioning homemade weapons to use on her sisters when they tease her, meeting their verbal jabs with physical ones of her own. Their father is like a volcano constantly on the verge of erupting, and the narrator references beatings, whippings, and bruisings as part of everyday life for this happy little family. Violence is so commonplace, in fact, so it's never singled out and narrated; instead it's a given in the narrator's household, kind of like breathing.

Questions About Violence

  1. Why does the narrator respond so violently to her sisters' teasing? Is this an overreaction? Why or why not?
  2. Do you get the feeling that the narrator knows that domestic violence is wrong? Or does she just see it as a normal part of life? Give evidence from the story to support your answer.
  3. How does each character manage the violent tendencies of their family members? What patterns do you notice and what does this tell you about the narrator's family?

Chew on This

By keeping violence as an undercurrent instead of a main event, "The Moths" demonstrates the insidiousness of family abuse.

"The Moths" demonstrates the connection between verbal and physical violence, showing just how damaging both can be.

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