The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

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Part V Summary: Alicia Who Sees Mice, Darius & the Clouds, and And Some More

New Characters:

Alicia’s father: father of Alicia, Esperanza’s neighbor

Darius: a neighbor of Esperanza

Alicia Who Sees Mice

Alicia’s father tells her that the mice she sees while she is up studying at night don’t really exist—they’re just in her imagination. Besides, he says, she should be sleeping instead of studying so she can wake up early and cook for the family. Alicia’s mother died, and she has had to take her mother’s place at home while she attends a university across town. She is always tired because she has to travel far to the university and stays up late to study.

Darius & the Clouds

Esperanza laments the fact that there is not enough sky, butterflies, or flowers, but she is determined to make the best of it. Her neighbor, Darius, who she thinks is “a fool,” says something that she thinks is simple and profound: He points to a cloud and says, “That’s God.”

And Some More

Esperanza, Nenny, Lucy, and Rachel have a discussion about names: different names for snow, people, and clouds. Nenny tries to name all the clouds she sees in the sky and the others describe what the clouds look like. Lucy, Rachel, and Esperanza get into a mild fight and call each other names.

Analysis

Alicia is a pivotal character in the novel. Like Esperanza, she desires something more than the traditional role for the Chicana woman. And like Esperanza, she has tremendous obstacles to face. Because her mother has died, Alicia, the oldest, must now assume that role and has to wake up early to take care of her family. She has “inherited her mama’s rolling pin and sleepiness,” but “because she doesn’t want to spend her whole life in a factory or behind a rolling pin,” she must struggle fiercely to go to, and stay in, school. She must study late into the night—sometimes all night—beginning only after her “woman’s work” is done.

Alicia’s father seems to think that her studying is not right, for it may keep her from rising “early with the tortilla star” and fulfilling her household duties. Despite this pressure from her father—or perhaps because of it—Alicia perseveres. But she is afraid of her father, who denies the reality of the poverty she is trying to escape by denying the existence of the mice, which scurry “under the swollen floorboards nobody fixes.” He also denies the reality of Alicia’s intelligence and desire for independence by telling her she’s imagining the mice.

Alicia’s father represents the patriarchal system that could, in a moment, take away her opportunity to control and improve her life. Alicia is afraid that she won’t be able to determine for herself what her “place” is and will end up succumbing to her father’s idea of where a woman belongs. It is important that Esperanza sees Alicia as “a good girl” and a friend, for Alicia serves as an important role model for Esperanza.

“Darius & the Clouds” opens with “You can never have too much sky.” The sky, with its endless, open...

(The entire section is 1,191 words.)