Fish in a Tree

Coins Symbol Icon

Coins (mostly nickels) serve several symbolic purposes. Ally first sees coins as a straightforward symbol for Grandpa and Dad, who introduced her and Travis to coin collecting when they were very young. Collecting coins is a way for both Ally and Travis to connect to their deceased grandfather and deployed father, thereby remembering the importance of their familial connections. However, it takes much longer for Ally to see that because of the nature of coin collecting, coins can also act as representations of the importance and the value of diversity and difference—after all, as Travis and one pawnshop salesman point out, coins are only collectible when they're some combination of rare, flawed, or somehow different than their brethren.

Coins Quotes in Fish in a Tree

The Fish in a Tree quotes below all refer to the symbol of Coins. 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 6 Quotes

“Well,” the guy says, “if you know anything about coins, you know that a coin with a flaw in it is far more valuable than a regular coin.”

Something isn't right with it and it's worth more?

Related Characters: The Salesman (speaker), Ally, Travis, Dad, Grandpa
Related Symbols: Coins
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 9 Quotes

As I walk back to my seat, I think of how when Dad left, he said that when we look at the steel pennies, we need to remember that we are unique, too. And also, that things will go back to normal for us—that he'll be home before we know it.

Related Characters: Ally (speaker), Travis, Dad
Related Symbols: Coins
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 23 Quotes

Even when I do something right, I feel like I've done something wrong. If I were a coin, I'd be a wooden nickel.

Related Characters: Ally (speaker), Mr. Daniels, Shay
Related Symbols: Coins
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:
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Coins Symbol Timeline in Fish in a Tree

The timeline below shows where the symbol Coins appears in Fish in a Tree. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5: Silver Dollars and Wooden Nickels
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
...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)... (full context)
Chapter 6: Triple-Sided Coin
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...smells like old memories of Dad and Grandpa taking Travis and Ally out looking for coins. The salesman doesn't say hello and doesn't take Travis seriously when he says he wants... (full context)
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
The salesman pulls out a very small penny. Travis inspects it and asks for a price. The man reminds Travis that a coin... (full context)
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Ally is elated as she accepts the dime outside the shop. Travis explains that both coins were minted in 1933, the year of Grandpa's birth. As they get in the car,... (full context)
Chapter 9: Bag Full of Nothing
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
...is allergic. Mr. Daniels encourages her to share anything. Finally, Ally pulls a 1943 steel penny out of her pocket. She explains that Dad gave both her and Travis steel pennies... (full context)
Chapter 20: Is This a Good Thing?
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
The Walking Liberty half-dollar hangs from the rearview, and Ally feels as though Dad and Grandpa are there too.... (full context)
Chapter 23: Words That Breathe
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
...though she answered right, and thinks she'd be a wooden nickel if she were a coin. (full context)
Chapter 29: Fish in a Tree
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...gets off the bus to visit the Noah Webster House. Ally thinks it'll be a silver dollar day as Albert starts filling his pockets with acorns. Oliver and Max throw acorns at... (full context)