What must happen before a caterpillar can become a butterfly


This poignant story is the conversation a mother has with her young daughter, who is about to depart for boarding school.

From Bette Bao Lord's book: Spring Moon: a novel of China (1981) Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., Page 247, via Google Books

My daughter, the lessons we studied together . . . do you remember what must happen before a caterpillar can become a butterfly?"

The child nodded.

"Then tell me. What must take place before the magic transformation?"

The girl's shoulders began to shake and tears again filled her eyes. But they did not fall, and her voice was clear and steady as she recited what she had learned. "The caterpillar must weave a cocoon, and live within it alone. It becomes a chrysalis, always changing, waiting until the proper time. Then the cocoon is broken."

"And . . ."

"The butterfly escapes."

"It is . . . "

"Beautiful."

"And it . . ."

"And it flies."

"Good. You have learned your lessons well, my daughter." Again the mother wiped away the tears.

Last updated 12 July 2006

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