Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
A few days later, Ally gets to school and discovers that Mr. Daniels has redone the seating chart. Ally is in the front row next to Keisha now. She thinks that Keisha can write and bake, while Ally can do neither. Ally worries all morning that Keisha doesn't like her and finally blurts that she doesn't mind being Keisha's friend. Annoyed, Keisha says that Ally doesn't need to do her any favors. Ally can't figure out what to say. The silence grows long and awkward, and Ally remembers how Grandpa always knew what to say.
Though Ally's narration and word choice suggests that she does struggle with some impulse control problems, especially when she's nervous, it's also important to recognize that Ally desperately wants to be liked and to have friends. Keisha is likely very attractive as a potential friend, given that she's smart, interesting, and will stand up to Shay.
Themes
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
Out of the blue, Ally asks Keisha if she likes eggs. Keisha seems incredulous, but Ally keeps going and talks about all the ways she likes to eat eggs. Keisha turns to search for something in her desk, which Ally knows is a polite way of ignoring her. She feels as though she's falling down the rabbit hole, just like Alice in Alice in Wonderland.
Ally's continual references to Alice in Wonderland suggest that she'd like to read and understands how to apply what she learns in books to her life; doing so is just impossible for her given that she can't read the books in the first place.
Themes
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
At lunch, Shay and Jessica invite Ally to sit with them. Ally doesn't want to, but she's tired of sitting alone and envious of the friendship bracelets the girls wear. Ally sees the bracelets as proof that someone cares, and she desperately wants to be a part of something, so she accepts. Ally checks her seat to make sure it's not booby trapped before sitting between Shay and Jessica. She notes their coy smiles.
Ally's acceptance of this invitation shows that her loneliness makes her vulnerable to Shay's bullying, as it doesn't seem like her invitation is innocent. Again, this reinforces how Ally's learning disability isolates her from her classmates.
Themes
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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Jessica points to Albert and everyone starts laughing. Ally doesn't understand why; Albert is dressed in his usual uniform of jeans and the Flint t-shirt. Shay finally points to Albert's sneakers, which Albert cut the backs out of. Shay and Jessica call Albert over and tease him about being poor and wearing slippers. Albert insists he'd just rather buy a chemistry set than shoes. Shay suggests they wear robes tomorrow, Jessica supports this, and Ally thinks that Shay is underhandedly teasing Jessica too and testing how far Jessica will follow her.
Ally's assessment that Shay is teasing Jessica makes it clear to the reader that despite Shay's friendship bracelets, she's actually a horrible friend. Teasing Albert about his shoes shows that Shay places a great deal of importance on a person's financial standing, which suggests that she's small-minded and has only one idea of what success is.
Themes
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
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Turning to Ally, Shay asks if Ally will join them in wearing robes and what she thinks of Albert's shoes. Ally feels as though she's being interrogated. She considers sticking up for Albert but knows Shay won't like it. She says the shoes look dopey and feels immediately awful. Albert, however, seems unperturbed. He points out that all three girls are wearing red shirts and notes that any crewmember on Star Trek who wears a red shirt never appears again. This makes everyone laugh. Max says Start Trek isn't a good TV show, which stops Albert in his tracks.
When Ally chooses to go along with bullying Albert, it shows that there are dire consequences to being treated so poorly and to being alienated with her learning disability: she's more likely to be mean to others to compensate and try to earn favor from someone more popular.
Themes
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
Shay tells Albert that he doesn't have to care about his appearance, but everyone who has to look at him will suffer. Albert nonchalantly says that he doesn't care what Shay thinks and walks away. Ally wishes she were more like him and wants to be better. She reasons that at least she's not mean before realizing that she just was. Ally knows now that there are worse things than being lonely.
This lesson that being mean doesn't pay shows Ally that even though Shay is popular, Shay is still not a good person to idolize or be truly jealous of. It's possible that Shay feels just as horrible as Ally does if she knows that bullying is wrong, which would make her existence very miserable.
Themes
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Blue quotation bubble icon linking to an important quote associated with this summary and analysis.