Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree Chapter 34 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After school a few days later, Keisha and Ally go to Albert's house. Ally still has "possible" in her pocket. Albert introduces his nervous and surprised mother, Audrey, and refuses her offer of food. As they race up the stairs, Keisha said she would've liked some food. Albert tells her that the fridge is empty and unplugged. Both Ally and Keisha apologize that Albert doesn't have food at home, but Albert says that filling the fridge isn't his responsibility and therefore, he has no reason to feel bad about it.
Again, Albert can attempt to look at things logically and rationalize his poverty all he wants, but he nonetheless appears a bit embarrassed that he can't give his friends a snack. This begins to show how poverty can also take a hit on a person's self esteem, just as Ally's dyslexia does for her.
Themes
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Ally looks around Albert's sparsely furnished room and the many science posters on his wall. She points to one poster of space and asks what it is. Albert says that it's the birth of a star, and Keisha tells Albert that he'll grow up to be a star. Ally starts to look serious and sad, which Keisha notices. Ally hesitates before telling her friends that she has trouble with reading and writing. Keisha insists that they don't care. Ally continues that Mr. Daniels says she has dyslexia, and he's been helping her after school. Mumbling, she says that she's afraid that she'll grow up to be a nobody, since her goal is just to be able to read a restaurant menu.
Because Ally believed until very recently that even reading a menu was beyond her reach, she's understandably having trouble realizing that if she continues to work with Mr. Daniels, she'll soon be able to read all sorts of things with much less trouble. This indicates that she's in the middle of her development here, as she recognizes that reading a menu is now within her grasp—but doesn't yet believe that books or more complex reading material is.
Themes
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Albert pauses and then says if nobody's perfect, then logically, Ally must be perfect. Keisha laughs and also tells Ally she's perfect. Albert says that he's struggling to find the origins of the saying "be yourself," since it doesn't make sense if you don't know who you are. He says he knows what kind of an adult he wants to be, but he doesn't know who he is now—and others are happy to tell him he's a nerd or a wimp.
Albert's musings encapsulate the project of being a teen at all: figuring out which voices to listen to and learning how to listen to his own voice. This reinforces that Albert, Ally, Keisha, and their other classmates are all at a natural turning point in their development, and their identities are things they can control.
Themes
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Blue quotation bubble icon linking to an important quote associated with this summary and analysis.
Albert asks Ally if she'd rather be in a tank with a killer whale or a stonefish. When she says the stonefish, Albert says this is the wrong answer—killer whales never attack people, while stonefish are extremely venomous. He says people are only afraid of killer whales because they're not called friendly whales. Ally thinks of how words are powerful; they can be used for good, or they can be used to hurt.
The comment about killer whales impresses upon Ally how important it is to think carefully about the words she uses to describe herself and others. She realizes now that others are wrong to call her dumb, but she also understands that those words have a great deal of power.
Themes
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Blue quotation bubble icon linking to an important quote associated with this summary and analysis.
Get the entire Fish in a Tree LitChart as a printable PDF.
Fish in a tree.pdf.medium