Part V Summary: Alicia Who Sees Mice, Darius & the Clouds, and And Some More
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.
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 expanse, is a symbol of freedom, of liberty, and of openness. “Here”—on Mango Street, in the urban Chicano barrio, in America—“there is too much sadness,” Esperanza says, “and not enough sky.” This is ironic because America is supposed to be the land of the free. Still, she and the other Chicanos (the “we” in this vignette) are in America now, and they will “take what [they] can get and make the best of it.” Their willingness to work with the circumstances is admirable.
The wisdom of Darius’s statement lies in its simplicity and innocence: He notices a fat cloud in the sky and says, “That’s God.” Here, Darius reduces the idea of God to the simplest level: God is where we wish to see him, especially in beautiful things. The cloud is also an appropriate place to “see” God because it is ephemeral, intangible, and as omnipotent as the water of which it is made.
In “And Some More,” Cisneros returns to the issues of names and language and to the cloud motif....
(The entire section is 1,191 words.)