Fish in a Tree

Oliver Character Analysis

Oliver is one of Ally's classmates. He's always talking and moving, which makes him a common target of bullying. In the week after Mr. Daniels arrives to teach, Ally notices that Oliver likely has self-esteem issues, just like she does; one mean look from Jessica makes him cower. She also realizes that Mr. Daniels and Oliver have a signal that allows Mr. Daniels to tell Oliver to quiet down without calling him out and embarrassing him. Though Shay continues to pick on Oliver, Oliver's confidence grows over the course of the novel. When Ally is finally in a place where she feels better about herself, she begins to see that Oliver is actually very funny and thoughtful. Mr. Daniels even compliments Oliver explicitly on his kindness, saying that Oliver will grow up to be a great man with his kind heart.

Oliver Quotes in Fish in a Tree

The Fish in a Tree quotes below are all either spoken by Oliver or refer to Oliver. 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 9 Quotes

Mr. Daniels gives Oliver a thumbs-up, and I think how cool it is that they have the ear-pulling signal. That way he doesn't always have to tell Oliver that he's doing something wrong in front of everyone. I know what that feels like and I'm happy that Mr. Daniels cares so much. Most teachers seem to like their students to be all the same—perfect and quiet. Mr. Daniels actually seems to like that we're different.

Related Characters: Ally (speaker), Mr. Daniels, Oliver
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 34 Quotes

And I think of words. The power they have. How they can be waved around like a wand—sometimes for good, like how Mr. Daniels uses them. How he makes kids like me and Oliver feel better about ourselves. And how words can also be used for bad. To hurt.

Related Characters: Ally (speaker), Mr. Daniels, Keisha, Albert, Oliver
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 48 Quotes

And looking around the room, I remember thinking that my reading differences were like dragging a concrete block around every day, and how I felt sorry for myself. Now I realize that everyone has their own blocks to drag around. And they all feel heavy.

Related Characters: Ally (speaker), Mr. Daniels, Shay, Oliver
Page Number: 245
Explanation and Analysis:
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Oliver Character Timeline in Fish in a Tree

The timeline below shows where the character Oliver appears in Fish in a Tree. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: In Trouble Again
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...going to climb a tree using her teeth. Shay groans that Ally should act normally, Oliver throws himself on his desk laughing, and Albert, a bulky kid wearing a t-shirt that... (full context)
Chapter 2: Yellow Card
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...and a bad way to get attention. Ally puts her hands in her pockets as Oliver bursts out of the room to confusingly say that Ally must've given Mrs. Hall the... (full context)
Chapter 9: Bag Full of Nothing
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
...first and talks about her horse. Jessica shows the class a picture of Shay, and Oliver brings a light bulb. As he bounces, he excitedly explains that his dad is a... (full context)
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...sneakier about being mean since Mr. Daniels took away her recess for making fun of Oliver. Albert explains that he drank water—the exact water was around when there were dinosaurs. He... (full context)
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...did it, and Keisha explains that she stands dough letters up in the cupcake batter. Oliver asks if she licks the spoon and begins to talk about how his mom doesn't... (full context)
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...after eating the wasabi pea, while Albert says with a pained look that it's good. Oliver eats his with no reaction and starts to talk about his parents saying he has... (full context)
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
...her uniqueness and that things will go back to normal. She notices Mr. Daniels giving Oliver a thumbs-up and thinks their secret signal is cool. Ally thinks that Mr. Daniels is... (full context)
Chapter 10: Promises, Promises...
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Max and Oliver ask clarifying questions and Ally receives a yellow notebook. They all begin to write. Ally... (full context)
Chapter 14: Boxed In and Boxed Out
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
...opening the box. Everyone looks excited. Ally is put in a group with Jessica, Max, Oliver, and Suki. Ally considers asking to go to the nurse when she sees all of... (full context)
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
Max shakes the box and says the object is heavy. Oliver shouts that it might be a kangaroo and  Jessicagives him a disgusted look that makes... (full context)
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
...not rolls. Ally feels as though she can almost see it and is surprised when Oliver tells her she's good at this. She even forgets to be nervous, since she's performing... (full context)
Chapter 15: Ungreased Gears
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...door and gives her a cupcake. She snaps at Max when he seems jealous, and Oliver flails and says, "Me want cupcake!" Shay calls Oliver a freak and says that Cookie... (full context)
Chapter 24: Imaginary Hero
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...write about a fictional character they consider a hero. Albert finds the premise illogical, while Oliver spouts off the names of every superhero. He even asks Suki for her opinion, but... (full context)
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
...as the colors blur, they turn white. Everyone, even Jessica and Shay, say it's cool. Oliver asks if Ally is going to give the color wheel away and says he'd give... (full context)
Chapter 29: Fish in a Tree
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...thinks it'll be a silver dollar day as Albert starts filling his pockets with acorns. Oliver and Max throw acorns at a tree, Ally picks one up too, and Shay laughs... (full context)
Chapter 37: A Chicken, a Wolf, and a Problem
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...without leaving the chicken alone with the grain or the wolf alone with the chicken. Oliver thinks he knows, but he can't keep the chicken from getting eaten. Suki struggles, as... (full context)
Chapter 41: Not-So-Secret Letter
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...let her know so she can take their concerns to the meeting in the afternoon. Oliver approaches Ally first and says he wants to be able to bring candy for snacks.... (full context)
Chapter 42: The Gifts of No Excuses, Scotch Tape, and Antibiotics
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
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... (full context)
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
Suddenly, Oliver starts screaming that Shay is an ant murderer for stepping on an ant, saying she... (full context)
Chapter 44: Tales of a Sixth Grade Something
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...Monday. At school, Shay asks how Ally made a kitchen scene with a working light. Oliver grabs for the light and knocks the wire, turning it off. Shay begins to yell... (full context)
Chapter 48: Oliver's Idea of Lucky
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
The next morning, Oliver asks Ally what it's like to have dyslexia. He wants to know if she sees... (full context)
Chapter 49: I See the Light
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...Ally watches her classmates. They're all occupied except for Shay, who's just sitting and watching. Oliver goes around and asks everyone to put their arms up, spell "image," and then say... (full context)