Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After school, Ally is in her room when she hears Travis come in the door and call for her. He appears in her room with a big grin on his face. Ally notices that he has keys in his hand, and he says he got "it." They run outside, and Ally sees an old car that looks more like a pickle on wheels than a car. She asks a few questions about it and Travis promises to take her places after he fixes it up, as well as for a ride now. She teasingly asks if she has to push or pull.
The fact that Travis can hold down a job and save the money required to buy a car in the first place offers an example of the ways in which people with dyslexia can still function in the world, even without the reading skills. This shows that there's more than one way to be successful.
Themes
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
The Walking Liberty half-dollar hangs from the rearview, and Ally feels as though Dad and Grandpa are there too. It starts to rain, so Travis pulls over and jumps out. He connects some springs and a rope to the windshield wipers and then jumps back in, explaining that the wiper motor went out hours earlier. He shows Ally his system for manually moving the wipers. She teases him for it, but gladly climbs into the backseat behind him to run the wipers. They happily pull up to a red light. Travis tells Ally to look at the lady next to them. The lady is shocked and her face is funny—until Ally realizes that Shay is also in the car.
The half-dollar here acts as a symbol for the ways in which Travis has been successful, despite his unique challenges and differences. Like the coin, he's still valuable and can make a difference in the world through his work on cars and old machines. Seeing Shay and her mom in the car next to them suggests that Shay will bully Ally for this car, as the car could be seen as a marker of poverty.
Themes
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
The next day at school, Shay waits until Mr. Daniels walks into the hallway before whispering loudly to Jessica that yesterday, she saw Ally and Travis in a disgusting and run-down car. Ally tries to ignore the, but can't when they say that it's probably all Mom could afford. Ally whirls on them and says it's Travis's car and it's not a loser car. Shay says that Travis must be a bigger loser than Ally. Ally tells Shay to shut up and says that Shay is a loser just as Mr. Daniels walks back in. Ally tries to defend herself. Though he doesn't punish her, he tells her to walk away next time. Ally is tired of walking away.
By waiting until Mr. Daniels leaves the room, Shay demonstrates just how important it is to her to pull others down, as she clearly puts a great deal of thought and planning into how she does it. This again indicates that her popularity and social standing depends on bullying others to make herself look powerful, as if her popularity were predicated on kindness, she wouldn't have to be secretive about it.
Themes
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon