Jim McGarrity doesn’t fire Francie and Neeley as planned because his business is booming in the spring of 1916. His customers gather there to discuss all of the great changes in the country, such as the prospects of Prohibition and women voting. Airplanes seem to be a fad, young people are dance-crazy, German-Americans are changing their names to something Anglicized. Francie listens carefully, feeling that the world has changed between the day Laurie was born and graduation day.
Francie connects the world’s changes to both the birth of her little sister and her graduation from primary school. Both signal the arrival of something new, particularly a change in women’s roles in the country. The dance-craziness to which McGarrity’s customers refer is related to the advent of jazz, which will play a big role in women’s sexual liberation.