Fish in a Tree

Mom Character Analysis

Ally's mom works at a restaurant called A. C. Petersen's as a waitress, which means that Ally often either does homework at the restaurant or is home unsupervised, given that Mom works late. Though Mom is supportive of her children and loves them unconditionally, having two children with unidentified dyslexia is difficult for her. She forces Travis to stay in high school and is clearly tired of receiving phone calls from Ally's school. Because Ally's dyslexia is unidentified, Mom agrees with Ally's teachers and believes that Ally simply isn't trying hard enough and is making trouble on purpose. At the same time, Mom knows that Ally is smart and tells her so often. She also praises Ally for her drawings, her thoughtfulness, and her kindness. Ally desperately wants Mom to be happy, so she does what she can to let Mom think she has friends and tries not to get Mom's hopes up when she runs for class president. Mom is thrilled when Ally makes friends and begins doing better in school, and she fully supports Ally's tutoring sessions with Mr. Daniels.

Mom Quotes in Fish in a Tree

The Fish in a Tree quotes below are all either spoken by Mom or refer to Mom. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Fish in a Tree published in 2015.
Chapter 5 Quotes

I'm so tired of this conversation. We've had it a hundred times, even though my third-grade teacher told her that I might just be slow, that my mom shouldn't expect too much of me. My mom's eyes got all wide and shiny when she heard that, and I felt sad and embarrassed for her having to be my mom.

Related Characters: Ally (speaker), Mom, The Third Grade Teacher
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mom Character Timeline in Fish in a Tree

The timeline below shows where the character Mom appears in Fish in a Tree. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: Yellow Card
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...give a pregnant woman a sympathy card. Ally feels herself shrinking as she remembers that Mom sends those to people when their loved ones die. She thinks that she should say... (full context)
Chapter 4: Bird in a Cage
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Ally walks all the way to where Mom works, a restaurant called A. C. Petersen Farms. Mom is worried that Ally is late... (full context)
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
Soon, Ally notices Mom in front of her. Ally looks up and explains that she didn't know the card... (full context)
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...restaurant. Shay feigns concern that Ally didn't return to class, and Ally tries to make Mom be quiet when Mom suggests the girls sit together. Shay and Jessica finally sit at... (full context)
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
While Mom is in the kitchen, Jessica and Shay laugh that Ally's mom is a waitress. Shay... (full context)
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...humiliated when the teacher said it was her name. Ally tries not to cry as Mom appears. Ally won't say what's wrong, since she knows how happy it made Mom to... (full context)
Chapter 5: Silver Dollars and Wooden Nickels
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Mom gets home later and immediately turns off the TV. She says that she's trying to... (full context)
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Mom says seriously that Ally needs to buckle down and make a better effort. Ally agrees... (full context)
Chapter 9: Bag Full of Nothing
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
...she forgot to bring something and says she can't even talk about a pet, since Mom is allergic. Mr. Daniels encourages her to share anything. Finally, Ally pulls a 1943 steel... (full context)
Chapter 12: What's Your Problem, Albert?
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
That night, Mom opens Ally's bedroom door to check on her. Ally explains how Jessica and Shay roped... (full context)
Chapter 13: Trouble with Flowers
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
...get what they deserve, and Ally hears Keisha sniff. She watches a mind movie of Mom's sad face if Ally were the only girl without flowers. Ally meets Mrs. Muldoon's eyes... (full context)
Chapter 19: Not-So-Sweet Secret
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Mom smiles when Ally, Albert, and Keisha walk into Petersen's. She seats them in a booth... (full context)
Chapter 20: Is This a Good Thing?
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 21: Butterfly Wishes
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
Mom makes Ally agree to go to Shay's party, even though Shay is mean and neither... (full context)
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
...explains that Ally is part of the party, but not her daughter, and Ally wishes Mom were here. (full context)
Chapter 32: Screen Time
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
When Ally leaves school later, Mom and Travis are waiting for her in the car—they're going to a friend's house so... (full context)
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Ally and Travis leave so that Mom and Dad can talk in private. Travis tells Ally that he's so frustrated with work... (full context)
Chapter 35: A Picture is Worth a Gazillion Words
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Ally goes right to Mrs. Silver's office, where she asks Mrs. Silver to call Mom. Ally doesn't even know why she's asking and takes the phone when Mrs. Silver holds... (full context)
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
That afternoon, Ally sits down at Petersen's and wonders what Mom will say about the phone call. Mom compliments Ally on her "ghost in a blizzard"... (full context)
Chapter 38: Loser for President
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...the next day. Mr. Daniels can't help her after school but suggests that she ask Mom. Ally knows that Mom would help but is afraid that it would get Mom's hopes... (full context)
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Ally sits at her dining room table, desperately wanting to ask Mom for help. She sees a mind movie of winning the election, so she tries her... (full context)
 Chapter 40: Tears of Different Kinds
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Ally runs into Petersen's and almost shouts that she won the election for class president. Mom is confused and then cries happy tears as she envelops Ally in a hug. The... (full context)