Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Mrs. Silver asks Ally if she has anything to say, but Ally stays silent. Eventually, Mrs. Silver leads Ally to her office. Ally sits, wonders what relaxing at school would be like, and wishes she had her Sketchbook of Impossible Things. There, she draws her mind movies. Mrs. Silver pulls Ally back to reality and reminds her that she's been in the office too much for only having been at school five months and tells Ally that it's up to her to make changes. Ally knows this isn't true, but she can't bring herself to admit her shame and tell the truth.
Wondering what it's like to relax at school shows another toll of struggling with an undiagnosed reading disability: school is a fundamentally anxiety inducing experience, as Ally knows that without help of some sort, she can't succeed. By telling Ally that it's up to her to change, Mrs. Silver shows that she doesn't think that Ally is struggling and needs help.
Themes
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
At Mrs. Silver's prodding, Ally admits that she wasn't trying to be funny and didn't want to hurt Mrs. Hall, but she stops short of telling the truth when she sees how disappointed Mrs. Silver looks. Ally believes she's dumb and beyond help, and after seven schools she knows it's best to be quiet. Mrs. Silver notices Ally's hands balling into fists and asks Ally to say what's wrong so that they can help her. Ally mumbles that nobody can help her.
The choice to not tell Mrs. Silver the truth betrays that at this point, Ally doesn't see teachers or administrators as trustworthy or being on her side. As far as she's concerned, they're out to get her, ask her to do impossible things, and punish her when she fails.
Themes
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Mrs. Silver points to a poster with two hands reaching for each other with words underneath and asks Ally to read it. Ally refuses, since she knows it'd take her a long time. She bluffs that she knows what the poster is talking about and wishes she could read when Mrs. Silver suggests she work on it, whatever "it" is.
When Ally can bluff her way through this, it tells the reader that she is smart and adept at getting through these social situations. She's become a great actress, though this is only because she's too afraid to admit she needs help.
Themes
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
The bell rings. Mrs. Silver says that Ally has crossed a line and when Mr. Daniels arrives on Monday, Ally needs to avoid negative consequences. Ally thinks this is impossible. As she stands to leave, Ally looks at the poster and again wishes she knew what it said. She races back to Mrs. Hall's classroom to apologize but when she sees the sad look on Mrs. Hall's face, Ally freezes. After a moment, Ally runs away. She misses her bus but feels she deserves to walk home alone.
Just as Ally chose not to confide in Mrs. Silver when she saw her disappointment, Mrs. Hall's sadness here only makes Ally feel worse about her behavior and even more alone. These two teachers then stand as an example of what a teacher should not do: judge a student before understanding why they did what they did.
Themes
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
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