When Chris is six, the family moves to the D.C. suburbs, where Walt works for NASA, then starts a consulting firm with Billie. With money tight, Walt and Billie work long hours and fight frequently over the business, while Chris and Carine lean on each other for support.
While money puts a strain on Chris’ family, the lack of it also makes him closer with his sister Carine. Because money is a divisive and binding element in Chris’ family it complicates and tangles his family ties.
On one family vacation, Walt takes twelve-year-old Chris and his siblings on a hiking trip, which inspires Chris to keep climbing higher, but Walt puts his foot down before Chris can make his way up a dangerous slope.
To earn money to buy his yellow Datsun, Chris canvasses neighborhoods, selling construction services for a local contractor. So successful at his job, Chris not only buys his car, but the contractor offers to hire him if he will stay in Annandale. Chris turns the offer down to drive across the country on his first road trip.
Though disdainful of his parents’ money-driven lifestyle, Chris is a natural salesman, who thrives at his job. His car purchase is driven by money, but also motivated by wanderlust, making the car a symbol of Chris’ conflicted relationship with wealth and the freedom it affords him.