Inside Out and Back Again

by

Thanhhà Lai

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Pem is one of ’s first two friends in Alabama. Though she introduces herself as Pam, Hà hears “Pem,” and so calls her friend Pem in her narration. She’s in Hà’s class and has long red hair and has to wear skirts that reach to her calves. Pem smiles a lot, helps Hà navigate the social structure at school, and tries to help Hà avoid being beaten up by Pink Boy. For Christmas, Pem gives Hà a beautiful doll with long black hair. Hà is embarrassed not to have a gift to give to Pem in return, so a few weeks after Christmas, Mother gives Hà some flower seeds that Hà and TiTi collected to give to Pem.

Pem/Pam Quotes in Inside Out and Back Again

The Inside Out and Back Again quotes below are all either spoken by Pem/Pam or refer to Pem/Pam. 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:
War, Childhood, and Maturity Theme Icon
).
Part 4: From Now On Quotes

I tell her
a much worse embarrassment
is not having
a gift for Pem.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Mother, Pem/Pam, TiTi
Related Symbols: Dolls
Page Number: 246
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Inside Out and Back Again LitChart as a printable PDF.
Inside Out and Back Again PDF

Pem/Pam Character Timeline in Inside Out and Back Again

The timeline below shows where the character Pem/Pam appears in Inside Out and Back Again. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 3: Alabama
Immigration, Culture Shock, and Belonging Theme Icon
Family and Grief Theme Icon
Culture, Food, and Tradition Theme Icon
Bullying, Racism, and Self-Doubt Theme Icon
...smile. The girl, who has long red hair and a long skirt, introduces herself as Pam. To Hà, this sounds like “Pem.” The boy has “coconut-shell skin” and is dressed fancily.... (full context)
Bullying, Racism, and Self-Doubt Theme Icon
...the board and works it out quickly. She smiles—until she sees the horrified looks from Pem and SSsì-Ti-Vân. Pink Boy’s pink face is now bright red. MiSSS SScott pushes Hà back... (full context)
Immigration, Culture Shock, and Belonging Theme Icon
Culture, Food, and Tradition Theme Icon
...skin take bright barrettes out of their hair and twist Hà’s hair into braids. Since Pem and SSsì-Ti-Vân nod, Hà holds still. As Hà walks home later, her shadow looks like... (full context)
Bullying, Racism, and Self-Doubt Theme Icon
Pancake Face. Today, Pem is wearing a long skirt that looks like a pioneer woman’s skirt. SSsì-Ti-Vân is wearing... (full context)
Immigration, Culture Shock, and Belonging Theme Icon
Family and Grief Theme Icon
Bullying, Racism, and Self-Doubt Theme Icon
...races out the door as soon as the final bell rings and switches coats with Pem. Pem takes Hà’s usual path while Hà turns left, and SSsì-Ti-Vân blocks the door. Hà... (full context)
Immigration, Culture Shock, and Belonging Theme Icon
Family and Grief Theme Icon
Culture, Food, and Tradition Theme Icon
...Now, Vu Lee always picks Hà up after school. This means that people always want Pem, Hà, and SSsì-Ti-Vân to sit with them at lunch, and they’re constantly getting party invitations.... (full context)
Part 4: From Now On
War, Childhood, and Maturity Theme Icon
Immigration, Culture Shock, and Belonging Theme Icon
Gift-Exchange Day. On December 25th, “gift-exchange day,” Pem comes over with a doll—Hà told her about the mouse-bitten one that she lost. Hà... (full context)
War, Childhood, and Maturity Theme Icon
Immigration, Culture Shock, and Belonging Theme Icon
Culture, Food, and Tradition Theme Icon
Bullying, Racism, and Self-Doubt Theme Icon
...dressed in red velvet tells Hà that flannel fabric is only for nightgowns and sheets. Pem shrugs; it doesn’t matter to her what Hà wears when Pem can’t cut her hair... (full context)
War, Childhood, and Maturity Theme Icon
Immigration, Culture Shock, and Belonging Theme Icon
Culture, Food, and Tradition Theme Icon
...Mother laugh. Hà admits that it’s far more embarrassing to not have anything to give Pem for Christmas. Thoughtfully, Mother goes to her drawer and pulls something out. She says she... (full context)