Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Later that evening, Ally feels instantly better when Travis walks in, smelling of grease. He says he had a "silver dollar day," and Ally explains that in her family, they have silver dollar days (good days) or wooden nickel days (bad days). Travis says he finished restoring an old Coke machine and found an old gumball machine to fix up. He says that soon he'll have his shop, Nickerson Restoration, but then deflates and says he just has to get out of school first. 
When Travis mentions school with such a deflated attitude, it suggests that he may be struggling with some of the same things as Ally. This shows that there's a good chance that nothing will change for Ally, given that Travis is in high school and still hasn't been identified or received help.
Themes
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Mom gets home later and immediately turns off the TV. She says that she's trying to be patient, but she's getting tired of Ally's behavior. Ally counters that everyone hates her and tells the reader that being funny when you don't mean to be is awful. Mom reminds Ally that school is important and it's time to stop goofing off and act as smart as she is, but Ally insists that she's not that smart. Ally remembers her third grade teacher saying she was just slow and is mostly glad that Mom doesn't believe her.
The only way that Ally sees to stay afloat is to play along when she makes mistakes that others find funny, which is how she starts to look like a jokester and a troublemaker to her teachers. However, she implies here that every instance where this happens is deeply embarrassing, which shows that even though Ally is doing something that could help her socially, it never actually does.
Themes
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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Mom says seriously that Ally needs to buckle down and make a better effort. Ally agrees to do so, but it feels like a lie. Mom sends Ally to take a bath and calls after Ally that nobody could hate her. Ally wishes Mom could understand her world.
Again, when Mom isn't willing to look at other reasons why Ally might be behaving like this, it traps Ally in this cycle of promising to do better that, in the end, just makes her feel hopeless.
Themes
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon