Raise your hand if you love cuckoo clocks. Yeah, that's what we thought. If you think they're annoying on their own terms, imagine moving from New York City to suburbia along the Mississippi River and having your parents give one to you as a housewarming gift. This is pretty much where we find Amy upon her arrival in North Carthage. A city girl from a wealthy family, Amy's experiencing a whole new world, and she's feeling out of place enough, thankyouverymuch, without owning a terrible cuckoo clock.
The clock is a goodbye gift from Amy's parents, but Amy doesn't see it as a loving, gracious parting act at all. She feels like she's been used her entire life as the cornerstone of their Amazing Amy franchise and that they never "fully appreciated the fact that they were earning money from my existence" (32.25). To her, the gift is a pathetic attempt at saying, "That's for thirty-six years of service" (32.35). Needless to say, it's not a warm and fuzzy reminder of the parents she left back in NYC.
Layered on top of her anger toward her parents is Amy's inability to fit into her new environment. Not only does the clock look "ridiculous" in their Missouri house, but it seems that the cuckoo is having difficulty adapting: "The little bird lurches out drunkenly […] It emits a dying wail" (16.2). You know who else feels ridiculous in her new life along the Mississippi River? Amy.
In a way, the cuckoo itself is a picture of Amy—out of place and struggling to adjust to her new surroundings. Just as two former New Yorkers have no reason to own something as folksy as a cuckoo clock, Amy herself, in the infamous words of Bill Dunne, "doesn't belong here" (16.35).