Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Jessica brings a huge bouquet of flowers for Mrs. Hall's baby shower, while Max gives her a package of diapers. Ally thinks that her card, which has a picture of yellow roses, is better than the bouquet since it won't dry up. Mrs. Hall slides Ally's card out and hesitates as she reads it. Ally feels proud to have done something nice, but is confused when her principal, Mrs. Silver, looks at the card and then motions for Ally to follow her out of the room. Shay gets up to look at the card, laughs, and says that Ally gets dumber every time she says something.
The fact that Ally believes she's doing something nice for Mrs. Hall shows that she's not a bad kid, as Mrs. Hall might believe. She is kind and wants to show it, but her undiagnosed dyslexia means that she can't follow social scripts, such as how to buy an appropriate card. This offers more reasoning for why Ally is bullied, since she likely looks out of touch in other situations as well.
Themes
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
Shay and Jessica laugh and ignore Mrs. Hall's admonitions while Ally wonders why she isn't used to this. Keisha, the new girl, tells Shay to mind her own business and the two argue for a few minutes. Max roots for a fight, Mrs. Hall tries to calm the room, and Suki takes out one of her wooden blocks that she only plays with when she gets nervous. Ally has no idea what's going on but follows Mrs. Silver into the hall.
Notice that both Mrs. Hall and Mrs. Silver don't make an effort to truly shut down Shay and Jessica's bullying. This is in part because they're just as shocked by the card as Shay is, though it also suggests that Mrs. Hall in particular doesn't have great classroom management skills.
Themes
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
Mrs. Silver tells Ally that this is beyond inappropriate and a bad way to get attention. Ally puts her hands in her pockets as Oliver bursts out of the room to confusingly say that Ally must've given Mrs. Hall the card because she's sorry that Mrs. Hall is leaving to have her baby. Mrs. Silver sends Oliver on his way and then asks Ally why she'd give a pregnant woman a sympathy card. Ally feels herself shrinking as she remembers that Mom sends those to people when their loved ones die. She thinks that she should say she doesn't know what a sympathy card is but says nothing. Ally didn't know it was a sad card because she can't read, but she can't tell anyone.
Because Ally can't read, she's shut out of all sorts of social things that require reading—think parties like this one, as well as ordering off menus in restaurants and even using social media. In this way, Ally's dyslexia isolates her and keeps her from appearing normal to people like Shay, who is a bully and has no interest in getting to know Ally. Pay attention to Oliver, however; his generous reading of the situation suggests that he's kinder than he's given credit for.
Themes
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
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