Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree Chapter 42 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Mr. Daniels calls Ally to his desk to give her something. Ally is excited until she sees that it's a book. She doesn't hate them anymore, but she's still scared of them. Mr. Daniels asks Ally to read it and stops her before she can make excuses. He says that she can read this one, and he'd like her to try. She flips through it and tells the reader that Mr. Daniels could hand her a massive book and she'd try to read it, just because he asked.
Ally's insistence that she'd try to read whatever book Mr. Daniels gives her speaks to the degree to which she now trusts her teacher: she trusts, first of all, that he won't give her something impossible, and even if he does, she wants to please badly enough to try anyway.
Themes
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust 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.
Mr. Daniels introduces a unit on persuasive writing by asking students to tell him what they'd like to have an unlimited amount of. Shay says she'd choose money, but Albert says he'd have antibiotics. He says that he could give them out to people who need them. Shay is incredulous and points out that with money, Albert could just buy the antibiotics. Oliver yells that he'd want tape—he says that life would be harder without it. He also suggests he'd like white glue. Shay says this is ridiculous. Mr. Daniels tries to tell Shay to respect Oliver, but they talk over him and Oliver says he'd use tape and glue to make notes for his little sister to help her feel better. He says that she used to be sick with something bad and was at the hospital a lot, but his cards made her feel better.
With this conversation, Shay's outlook on life starts to look even further removed from those of her classmates. Though she doesn't say what she'd do with all of her money, it's also telling that she doesn't say—while both Albert and Oliver cite helping others when they talk about the things they'd like to have. Shay's desire for money also ignores the possibility that antibiotics (or tape, for that matter) might not always be available. Wishing for an unlimited supply of antibiotics means that humans will never be without.
Themes
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Mr. Daniels tells Oliver he's one of a kind. Suki raises her hand and says that according to her grandfather, everyone is unique and that makes them all great. Albert points out that E. coli is unique and very dangerous, but Mr. Daniels insists that it'd be boring if people were all the same. Ally thinks that she'd like to be more like everyone else, but adds that she wouldn't want to act like Shay or Jessica.
Mr. Daniels's assertion that it's important for everyone to be different encapsulates his philosophy as a teacher: to accept his students as individuals worthy of respect and consideration, and not to treat them like faceless automatons.
Themes
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Suddenly, Oliver starts screaming that Shay is an ant murderer for stepping on an ant, saying she had no right to kill him. Oliver carefully picks up the dead ant in a tissue and says he's going to bury it. Shay starts laughing but stops immediately when Mr. Daniels sternly reprimands her. He says they all need to work to accept each other and asks Oliver to apologize to Shay, since it's common for people to kill ants. After Oliver does so, Mr. Daniels tells Oliver that his kind heart will make him a great man.
In both praising and reprimanding Oliver, Mr. Daniels indicates that being so kind and giving won't always be easy for Oliver—but also suggests that it's still worthwhile and noble to strive to be so kind. When he shuts down Shay's bullying, he also reminds the class that while Oliver may be exaggerating, his kindness is still more desirable.
Themes
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
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