“Alicia” by Gabrielle Roy Summary: Short Story Plot Synopsis

“Alicia” is a short story by Gabrielle Roy about a woman’s remembrances of her older, but mentally younger, sister. Here’s a summary of “Alicia”.

“Alicia” Summary

Christine wants to tell the story of Alicia, her older sister. She didn’t recognize her family. Occasionally, she recognized Christine and smiled at her, but it wouldn’t last. She asks her Maman what’s wrong with Alicia, but she says nothing. Christine catches her Maman crying sometimes. She has to search for the answer herself.

One summer, Alicia starts spending time up in the attic. Once, Christine finds her crying in a dark cupboard. Another day, she puts on a white dress and throws rose petals at the people who walk by.

Alicia used to be put in charge of watching Christine when her mother was busy with something. They would walk across a field to a grove of black oats. They’d lie in the field quietly for hours. Alicia’s thoughts were already negative, with a focus on the suffering in the world.

Now, Alicia’s unaware of everyone. She’s hidden when visitors come. She survived a fever that made her existence worse than death. This confuses Christine.

One day, Alicia badly bites Christine. She gets sent away, but Christine isn’t told where. One day she overhears her parents talking about the risks of taking her somewhere. Understanding that her presence could work a “miracle”, she hides among the trees.

She remembers when she and Alicia would take their food and eat it sitting in the cornstalks. They felt secure there.

Alicia by Gabrielle Roy SummaryPlot Synopsis short story
“Alicia” Summary

In the morning, Christine and her mother go to a small town to a large, high building where Alicia is being cared for. It has attractive grounds and is surrounded by an iron fence.

They’re admitted to a parlor, a waiting room where they can hear keys and footsteps in the distance. A startling peal of laughter frightens Christine. Maman seems too saddened to notice her distress.

A woman escorts Alicia into the room. Her head is bent and her body sags. Christine wants to cry out at how changed her sister is. They’re left alone.

Maman speaks to her, but Alicia doesn’t seem to recognize her. Christine hugs her and speaks her name. Alicia gives a little smile. Christine cries on Alicia’s lap. Alicia strokes Christine’s head. She seems to be figuring something out then smiles and speaks. She recognizes her little sister and knew she would come for her.

Alicia looks joyful, but it’s soon overtaken by despair. They had a moment where they were all together again. Her hands tremble and she returns to her former oblivious state. She becomes a well-behaved little girl. Her sister and mother can’t take it.

Alicia dies a few months later. Everyone is buried the same way, whether they die on the day of death or long before. Christine wonders why people said of Alicia’s death that God had shown her a mercy.

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