Study Guide

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson Plot Analysis

By Bette Bao Lord

Plot Analysis

Exposition

Movin' on Up

Sixth Cousin, a.k.a. Bandit, lives with her entire extended family in China. But not for long. She finds out that she's going to schlep across the world to move to America with her mom—her dad's already there waiting for them—which means Sixth Cousin is about to leave behind everything and everyone she knows to start a new life in a foreign country. When she does, she will become… drum roll, please… Shirley Temple Wong. With that, the stage is set for our story to unfold.

Rising Action

All By Myself

Shirley arrives in America and doesn't fit in right away. For one, she doesn't speak English, which means it's really tough for people to understand her, and vice-versa. When Shirley starts fifth grade at her local school, the kids aren't all that welcoming, and Shirley isn't able make friends despite trying to do all the things American kids do (play stickball, roller skate). Poor Shirley is one lonely kid, and tension is officially part of the plot at this point.

Climax

With a Little Help from My Friends

Finally Shirley's able to make a pal or two. It doesn't come about how you might think, though, and instead is the pleasantly surprising byproduct of getting beaten up by Mabel, the biggest girl in the grade, and not ratting her out. This decision to keep quiet inspires Mabel to befriend Shirley, and this friendship results in Shirley playing stickball, loving Jackie Robinson, and roller skating. Finally, the other kids like—or at least don't mind—Shirley. She's finally arrived when it comes to her social life, so now our story is ready to start working toward its close.

Falling Action

Take Her Out to the Ball Game

Now that Shirley's officially one of the gang at her local school, she becomes obsessed with the Brooklyn Dodgers; our girl lives and breathes baseball, idolizing their star, Jackie Robinson, and tuning in every day to their games on the radio. When they lose a championship, Shirley gets bummed out. At the same time, though, she makes even more friends, including a new girl named Emily. Shirley is really settling in at this point.

Resolution

When a Hero Comes Along…

P.S. 8 has one more surprise in store for Shirley. For the school's Christmas pageant, there's a superstar guest, and this year it's the one and only Mr. Jackie Robinson. Like Shirley, Jackie has had to break barriers and overcome difficult circumstances, and when she meets him, Jackie is super-sweet to Shirley. Her mom is pregnant at this point, too, and Shirley can't wait to teach her little brother everything she knows from her time in China and in America.

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