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Lorraine, who narrates this chapter, gives us further insight into John's character. She thinks the only reason he gets away with so much bad behavior is that he is so handsome. (For more on his character, go to John's Character Analysis.)
Lorraine mentions that she and John both "have families you wouldn't believe."
She reflects that teachers may have personal lives that are invisible to students. Who knows what kind of a life Miss Reillen ("the Cricket") has? When she once dropped off some papers at Miss Stewart's – another teacher's – house, she was shocked to see Miss Stewart's sick mother in a bed in the living room. "Who would want to marry a woman that keeps her sick mother in a bed in the middle of the living room?" asks Lorraine.
She relates some of her mother's cruel remarks ("You're not a pretty girl, Lorraine") and mentions John's father's alcoholism. She says that John's father doesn't drink anymore because he developed "sclerosis of the liver," but John does. (Note: many commentators on the novel assume that Lorraine, and later, John use the word "sclerosis" by accident, when they mean "cirrhosis." However, sclerosis of the liver is also a condition associated with excessive alcohol consumption.)
John distorts the truth and tells outright lies, Lorraine says. He will say anything in class to get a laugh.
Lorraine says that the difference between them is that she has compassion. John has some compassion, but it is hidden deep inside of him.
Lorraine relates how she and John become friends: he sat next to her on the school bus one day and started laughing. She got angry and asked him to stop, "because people will think I'm sitting with a lunatic." "I am a lunatic," he replied, and soon they were both laughing.