Alicia, whose family is originally from Guadalajara, is an intelligent, hard-working university student. Alicia’s mother died young, leaving her to bear the brunt of any traditionally feminine duties in her home. She has so many responsibilities in her life that she barely sleeps, staying up late into the night to study, which is when she sees the mice, who come out of their hiding places to find food once the house becomes dark.

Her father has little sympathy for Alicia’s predicament. He believes that “a woman’s place” involves sleeping soundly so that she can be up before dawn to begin her household chores. Alicia does fulfill her father’s expectations by rising early to make food for her younger siblings, all while working hard to remain in university so that she can one day have a better life. The fact that her father doesn’t believe that she sees these mice symbolizes the divide between genders in the Mango Street community, and how men are often ignorant or uncaring toward the experiences and struggles of women.

Alicia has a pivotal conversation with Esperanza toward the end of the novel, expressing one of the essential sentiments of the story: the importance of returning to Mango Street. Alicia tells Esperanza that, no matter what she wants or thinks, Mango Street is ultimately her home, and one day she will return to it. Not only that, but it is also Esperanza’s – and the other residents’ – responsibility to take care of Mango Street and improve it, as no one else but their own community is going to care enough to do it.