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Quotes

Quote #7

His mother always cried poor, but she put a lot of thought and as much money as she could scrape together into making sure she wouldn't be embarrassed by how her family looked. But the day before she planned to take them all over to Millsburg Plaza for new clothes, his dad came home from Washington early. He'd been laid off. No new clothes this year. (8.2)

Imagine only getting new clothes once a year, and then not being able to get them at all. The description of this situation helps us feel more sympathetic to Jess's parents. We can understand his mom's short temper and strain a bit better when we learn about how she does try to get her family looking nice at least once a year, and how much effort even that takes. The timing of Jess's father losing his job is particularly cruel – the money that was saved for new clothes and freshness has to be turned over to living expenses.

Quote #8

When she mentioned lunch, he realized with horror that he would need money, and he didn't know how to tell her that he hadn't brought any – didn't have any to bring, for that matter. (10.57)

Jess was so excited to go on this trip at all that it didn't occur to him to have asked for money. But he "didn't have any," anyway. So even if he'd thought about it, the only outcome would've been saying he might not be able to go because he couldn't afford it. Luckily, Miss Edmunds is gracious enough to take him to lunch as part of their day out together, and Jess is spared any further embarrassment.

Quote #9

Jess and his dad helped them load the U-Haul, and noontime his mother brought down ham sandwiches and coffee, a little scared the Burkes wouldn't want to eat her food, but needing, Jess knew, to do something. (13.64)

Although the Aarons and the Burke families move in different circles – and the fact that Leslie and Jess were friends was most unusual – they're still kind to each other during times of trouble. Even though Jess's mom is worried the Burkes will disdain the refreshments she can provide, she still feels the "need" to provide them.

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