For his birthday, Tony asks
"for a new baseball mitt, a remote-control car, a Nintendo, and a gift certificate to Sam's Sports Cards".
"...two shirts, a microscope, a new music stand, and a Sarah Chang CD".
Even though he was born an born in Korea, Tony is pretty much an all-American boy. His adoptive mother, however, influenced by a stereotypical view of Koreans, and Asians in general, as highly gifted, especially in the areas of academics and music, is intent on making sure he develops his perceived talents in these areas, and does not accept that he has no interest in doing so. Tony's consuming passion is baseball, but he is constantly pushed to fulfill expectations that have nothing to do with what he desires as an individual.
Tony describes the pledge he breaks when no one is looking as
"...like the Pledge of Allegiance, except that it's only for people of Asian background...'I pledge allegiance to Sarah Chang and all other Asian-Americans that I will be quiet, hardworking, and polite, succeeding in all things through dedication..."
The pledge outlines how he is expected to act, as an American of Asian descent, in the narrow viewpoint of his mother and others. Tony recalls that the whilrligig he saw on a family camping trip made him angry, because it portrayed a girl in an orchestra, and his mother harped on it as an example of what he himself could be if he worked hard enough at his violin. Tony does not like playing the violin, and has no interest in being in an orchestra, ever. His mother's constant nagging makes him angry, and he directs his anger at the girl on the whirligig, hurling a stone at her. According to the pledge, Tony, as a good Asian-American child, should have been quiet and compliant and never expressed his anger; he probably shouldn't have even felt it. When he thought no one was looking, however, he expressed his ire by violently throwing the rock, "breaking every commandment in the pledge" (Chapter 6).