How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents Questions and Answers
by Julia Alvarez

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What does the cat symbolize?

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The cat symbolizes the fear of the unknown. In the final story, Yoyo finds kittens that have been separated from their mother. A stranger tells Yoyo to not take a kitten. However, after she hears shooting, the mother cat appears as Yoyo attempts to take one of her kittens. Although Yoyo eventually returns the kitten, she doesn’t know what happens after. The cat occasionally appears in her dreams, a mystery that she can’t solve.

There’s a sense of guilt that still plagues Yoyo, even as an adult. Maybe she should have heeded the stranger’s warning to not separate the kitten from her mother. Yoyo made a seemingly harmless mistake that could have been avoided if she didn’t give in to her own curiosity. Therefore, the cat acts as a confirmation of Yoyo’s fear and curiosity about the alternate possibilities that life offers.

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