“The Moths”, “Cathedral”, and “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”
The Moths by Helena Maria Viramontes
“The Moths” by Helena Maria Viramontes is a story about a young girl who shows feelings of isolation and immaturity. It is apparent that she isolates herself from her family because she always stays with her grandma. The narrator expresses the theme by showing how the young teen feels the exact opposite with her grandma to the way she feels around her family.
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The girl connects with her grandma in a sense that because she feels unaccepted by her sisters, she is the one that brings some hope and comfort in the story. The grandma must die so the girl can let go of her resentment and rebirth her new accepting self. Abuelita dies and she is the one who takes care of the body showing a conflict between death and life which are hard to separate in this story.
The characters in the story are The Narrator, Abuelita, who represents around the character in the story because of her in-depth representation and how significant she is in the narrator’s life. As flat characters, we can mention Ama, Apa, Teresa, and Marisela. When the girl says, at the bottom of the fourth paragraph, her grandmother watching her makes her feel “how God is supposed to make you feel”(The Moths, 33), she is implying that God doesn’t give her that safe, comfortable feeling.
The author is trying to show the reader here that she finds God through her grandmother. The extreme event in the text was not only losing her grandmother but also finally feeling safe and reassured directly from God after she was gone. The narrator is the only one at home when Abuelita dies, and the description of cleaning her body is intimate and direct. “I removed a few strands of hair from Abuelita’s face and held her small light head within the hollow of my hand”(The Moths, 37). In this vulnerable moment, the narrator shows humanity and learn how fragile we are as human beings.
The Cathedral by Raymond Carver
In the “Cathedral” the narrator presents a story about his wife’s friend, Robert who is a blind man she has met a long time ago, and who has lost his wife, is coming home to visit her home. During that long time, Robert has been in touch through voice messages send in tapes. In this story, the act of looking is related to physical vision, but the act of seeing requires a deeper understanding.
The narrator who shows a lack of deep intuitive understanding immediately assumes that he is superior to Robert. Robert is the round character in the story, he is an insightful, compassionate man who takes the time to truly listen to others, which helps him to “see” them better than he could with his eyes. Even though Robert can’t physically see the narrator’s wife, he understands her more deeply than the narrator does because he truly listens.
The wife obviously has a lot to say and has spent the past ten years confiding in Robert on the audiotapes she sends him. The interaction we see between the narrator and his wife, however, are exchanges of things that result annoying to her. True “seeing,” as Robert demonstrates, involves a lot more than just looking. The narrator’s wife is glad to see him, but since he cannot see her, their interaction is only slightly different from the conversation they have been through the tapes.
In a significant moment in the story, Robert invites the narrator to draw a cathedral, because he has asked what it is. “I stared hard at the shot of the cathedral on the TV. How could I even begin to describe it? But say my life depend on it. Say my life was being threatened by an insane guy who said I had to do it or so”(Cathedral, 95).
Even though he can see the cathedral, he can not describe what he sees because he really does not understand it. Only by drawing the cathedral with his eyes closed can the narrator create a connection between seeing and understanding. Robert is not a magical being in any way, but the effect this interaction has on the narrator is almost mystical. The lesson he has learned from the “blind man” he looked under his shoulder because his disability, might be one that changes his perspective of life.
A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
This is a story with an elusive concept of what being a”good man” really means. In her desperate attempt to convince her son to take the kids to Tennessee instead of Florida, The Grandma leads his family to a catastrophic end. The story also shows how egoism influences people negatively. The characters of this story are The Grandmother, The Misfit, this two are the round ones of the story, Baily, John Wesley, June Star, The Mother, Bobby Lee, Pitty Sing, and Red Sammy.
On the day of the trip, the grandmother hides her cat, Pitty Sing, in a basket in the car. She wears a dress and hat with flowers on it “In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady” (O’Connor, 338). The family stops at a restaurant called the Tower, owned by Red Sammy who was complaining about how difficult has become to trust people, explaining that he recently let two men buy gasoline on credit.
The grandmother tells him he is a good man for doing it. The grandmother asks if they have heard about the Misfit, a dangerous criminal that has escaped from prison, and the woman worries that he will rob them. Red Sam says, “A good man is hard to find.” He and the grandmother lament the state of the world.
Back in the car, the Grandmother wakes up from a nap and realizes that an old plantation she has visited a long time ago is near to where they are. She lies that the house had a secret panel to make the house seem more interesting. Excited, the children implore to go there. The grandmother points him to a dirt road.
The family drives deep into the wood when suddenly she remembers that the house was in Tennessee, not in Georgia. Horrified at her mistake, she jumps and Pitty Sing escapes from the basket and scares Bailey causing an accident. Even though she decides not to tell Bailey about her mistake. A car stops, and three men with guns get out.
The grandmother suddenly screams because she realizes that he was the Misfit. In her desperation, she refers to him as a “good man” to which he answered “I found out the crime don’t matter….because sooner or later you are going to forget and just be punished for it”(O’Connor 347). In the end, he ends up killing all the members of the family with the exception of Pitty Sing, the cat. Ironically, the Grandmother died with a without discovering the real meaning of a “good man”.