Becoming Nicole

by

Amy Ellis Nutt

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Becoming Nicole can help.

The Little Mermaid Symbol Analysis

The Little Mermaid Symbol Icon

Ariel’s story in Disney’s movie The Little Mermaid symbolizes Wyatt’s own struggle with his gender identity. When Wyatt is young, he becomes obsessed with watching The Little Mermaid, and Nutt makes the parallels between the character and Wyatt himself. Like Wyatt, Ariel “lives in one world but yearns to be in another.” She has the top half of a human female, but the bottom half doesn’t make sense to her. Wyatt, too, feels like a female and outwardly presents as such throughout most of his life, so his biologically male anatomy is confusing to him even from an early age. He understands himself as a girl, but the rest of the world doesn’t see him that way.

The parallel between Wyatt (who eventually takes on the name Nicole) and Ariel only grows stronger by the end of the book. When Nicole is finally able to have her sex reassignment surgery, a friend of hers texts her that she’s “like Ariel.” Like Ariel, who finishes her story where she belongs—with human legs and joining her prince on land—so, too, does Nicole transform herself and have a sense of true belonging inside her body.

The Little Mermaid Quotes in Becoming Nicole

The Becoming Nicole quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Little Mermaid. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Gender Identity, Expression, and Transformation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of Becoming Nicole published in 2015.
Chapter 3 Quotes

Part human, part fish, Ariel, with her shiny green scales, is decidedly a mermaid below the waist. But above it, with her long hair and luscious red lips, she is all girl.

Ariel’s problem, however, is that she lives in one world, under the sea, even as she yearns to be in another, on land. As she gazes at her image in a mirror beneath the waves, she feels comforted by the top half of her reflection. It’s the bottom that doesn’t make sense.

Related Characters: Nicole/Wyatt Maines, Jonas Maines
Related Symbols: The Little Mermaid
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 42 Quotes

Her good friend Lexie texted, “HOW U FEELIN?” And then, “YOU’RE LIKE ARIEL,” the little mermaid who emerged from the sea in the form she’d always longed for.

Nicole’s transition was now complete. She would still need to take female hormones the rest of her life, and she would never be able to have her own children, but she knew she wanted to marry a man some day and adopt.

Related Characters: Nicole/Wyatt Maines
Related Symbols: The Little Mermaid
Page Number: 259
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Becoming Nicole LitChart as a printable PDF.
Becoming Nicole PDF

The Little Mermaid Symbol Timeline in Becoming Nicole

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Little Mermaid appears in Becoming Nicole. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: Finally Ours
Gender Identity, Expression, and Transformation Theme Icon
...Nutt writes, “Part human, part fish, Ariel, with her shiny green scales, is decidedly a mermaid below the waist. But above it, with her long hair and luscious red lips, she... (full context)
Chapter 6: Things to Be Careful Of
Gender Identity, Expression, and Transformation Theme Icon
Discrimination, Advocacy, and Pride Theme Icon
...book called “Things to Be Careful Of.” The cover shows a man-eating shark and a mermaid perched on an underwater rock. Inside are drawings of things to avoid, like strangers, slipping... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Pink Aisle
Gender Identity, Expression, and Transformation Theme Icon
...knows that he is transgender. The next day she goes out and buys him a Little Mermaid playset, and every Wendy, Dorothy, and Cinderella toy she can find. (full context)
Chapter 42: Transformation
Gender Identity, Expression, and Transformation Theme Icon
...friend Lexie texts her, asking how she’s feeling and then typing “YOU’RE LIKE ARIEL” from The Little Mermaid . Nicole’s transition is complete. She will need to take female hormones the rest of... (full context)