In The House on Mango Street, what do the mice symbolize in the vignette of Alicia Who Sees Mice?

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Alicia Who Sees Mice," the mice represent Alicia's poverty:

"Alicia Who Sees Mice" is a young woman burdened by taking care of her family while attending college in order to escape her way of life in the barrio. She is only afraid of mice, which serve as a metaphor for her poverty.

She lives in a broken down home. The floors are "swollen floorboards nobody fixes." The mice run around at night while Alicia is studying. She is afraid of the "foor-legged fur." In reality, Alicia is afraid of her poverty-stricken life. She stays awake at night studying so that she can earn a college degree to help her escape the poverty she lives in.

While studying at night, the mice crawl about, interrupting Alicia's studies. She dreads seeing the mice. Her father who is not supportive of her studies tells her to close her eyes and sleep. Then the mice will go away. Of course, he is sexist and believes that she, as a woman, is to do two things: sleep and rise early to make tortilla lunches for her siblings.

Alicia overcomes of fears and attends college, even though she has to take two trains and a bus to get there. She is determined to rise above her poverty-stricken situation, which the mice symbolize.

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The House on Mango Street

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