| Quote #1
When you were the only boy smashed between four sisters, and the older two had despised you ever since you stopped letting them dress you up and wheel you around in their rusty old doll carriage, and the littlest one cried if you looked at her cross-eyed, it was nice to have somebody who worshiped you. Even if it got unhandy sometimes. (1.8)
Here the narrator moves into second person to describe Jess's place in his family. Since most of the book is in third person limited omniscient (see "Narrator Point of View" for more), this is unusual. It has the effect of putting readers into Jess's shoes and forcing us to really empathize with his position.
| Quote #2
And May Belle would pop her buttons. Her brother was the fastest, the best. That ought to give the rest of the first grade something to chew their cuds on.
Jess's ambition to run fastest is fostered by a desire to please his family. In ascending order, he'll have the glory of being the fastest; the sister he likes best, May Belle, will "pop her buttons"; and "even his dad [will] be proud." That's the most exciting thing about the fantasy of winning – getting approval and acknowledgment from his dad.
| Quote #3
Sometimes he felt so lonely among all these females – even the one rooster had died, and they hadn't yet gotten another. With his father gone from sunup until well past dark, who was there to know how he felt? (2.29)
Jess feels like an alien in his mostly female family. Everyone on the farm is female, even the livestock. The only other guy is his dad who's never there. So what this really tells us is that Jess's dad seems like an absent parent and Jess craves his father's approval and attention. Without his dad around, he feels even more isolated and alone.