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The short story "Mouse", collected among other places in Smoke and Mirrors, is about a man who is buying a trap to get rid of the mouse in his house. He doesn't want to kill the mouse, so he buys a safe trap.

Meanwhile, at home, his wife seems pregnant. She goes away for what seems to be an abortion, and when she comes back, she complains about the pain. As she does so, her husband can't tolerate it and goes away.

In the kitchen, the trap has a mouse in it. The man can't kill it, so he takes it gently to his yard and sets the mouse free.


I don't remember if his wife actually being mentioned as pregnant, but it was my impression that she was getting an abortion. From the contrast in the treatment the protagonist shows to his wife (actually their unborn child) and to the mouse, it seemed to me that the story might be criticising abortion. This was most baffling, because I clearly remember Neil Gaiman mentioning1 a non-existing Sandman story, where we would see the dreams of an unborn baby about to be killed by an abortion, and he said that he didn't write the story because he didn't want it to be used as leverage to persuade young girls into keeping children they didn't want.

So right now Neil Gaiman seems to be pro-choice. Is this short story really anti-abortion?

1 I don't remember which interview it was - this, this, or some else.

  • By some bizarre coincidence, Black Uhuru's "Abortion" started playing when I was writing this. Neil Gaiman annotated the short stories in this collection with the stories of their writing - this one's background doesn't mention abortion, but rather superstitions. – Gallifreyan Sep 10 '17 at 22:36
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    I guess it’s probably worth mentioning that the views of an author and the views of a character in a work can be two very different things. A lot of authors write stories from the viewpoint of characters with whom they disagree. But in any case, it could be that Neil Gaiman’s views on abortion are more complicated than “for” or “against.” For example, maybe he dislikes abortion (and thus wouldn’t mind writing a story critical of it), but feels that it should be an option that people have (and doesn’t want to be used as justification to take away abortion rights). – Obie 2.0 Sep 11 '17 at 3:11
  • @Obie2.0 Of course. I was more interested in the story itself than in the author's opinion. Still looking for that interview where he talked about it. – Gallifreyan Sep 11 '17 at 3:28

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