A young girl tells the story of her older sister Alicia’s mental illness.
Photograph by Hari RoserGabrielle-Roy_alicia
Gabrielle Roy, Alicia short story
Gabrielle Roy, Alicia short story (with highlights)
Gabrielle Roy, Alicia vocabulary
Questions to explore:
- Alicia’s family, her younger sister, mother and father, never openly discuss “what’s wrong” with Alicia, not even among themselves. Why? What is gained or lost as a result?
- Often, people , like Alicia, with mental disability are defined or seen through the lens of what they lack (their weaknesses or character traits that set them apart from being “normal”) rather than their strengths or unique perspectives they have. Is there anything to Alicia’s character that sets her apart, that makes her unique in her environment? Can disability be an asset as well not just a loss?
- Seeing Alicia’s illness through the lens of a child (her sister) and through shared childhood experiences, her sister provides a unique perspective on Alicia that at times sets her apart from the adults of the household. What insight if any do we gain into Alicia’s illness that is unique to the sisters’ relationship and/or a child’s perspective?
- How is the sisters’ relationship shaped by Alicia’s mental illness? Do you see any change in this relationship over time? Why, why not?
- Why, do you think, Alicia bites her sister?
- The title of the short story is “Alicia” yet we learn very little about who she is and what she thinks in the story. Why is Alicia’s character left so undefined given her central role?
- In the story it is suggested at the funeral (perhaps by the priest ) that death for Alicia was a sign of God’s mercy on her and/or the best possible outcome. Do you agree? Why or why not?
- How do you think environmental factors (i.e., the way the family related to Alicia) impacted her illness and the outcome?