From lines 33-44 of “A Mother in Mannville,” what can you infer about the boy from his reaction to the narrator's praise?

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In Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' short story "A Mother in Mannville," the narrator recounts her relationship with Jerry, a young boy from the orphanage near where she rents a cabin for a time.

Rawlings tells this story in such a way as to leave the readers many opportunities to make inferences. In lines 33-44, the narrator has left the state for the weekend, leaving her pointer dog Pat in the care of Jerry. She is delayed in returning due to fog, and during this section of the text, Jerry is assuring her that he took care of the dog even in her extended absence. He says: 

"'The superintendent said nobody would drive in the fog,' he said. 'I came just before bedtime last night and you hadn't come. So I brought Pat some of my breakfast this morning. I wouldn't have let anything happen to him.'

'I was sure of that. I didn't worry.'

'When I heard about the fog, I thought you'd know.' He was needed for work at the orphanage and had to return at once. I gave him a dollar in payment, and he looked at it and went away. But that night he came in the darkness and knocked at the door."

In this passage, the narrator has praised, or validated Jerry with her confidence in his ability to take care of the dog in her extended absence. She also gives him a dollar in payment for the job that he's done--a substantially higher amount than the ten cents he earned for chopping wood. 

Before making inferences about this passage, one must consider the context. Rawlings' story was first published in 1936. It follows that the story is set in about 1936, as well. Orphanages would have been common during that time. The Great Depression began in 1929 and continued through 1939, so this story is also taking place at a time when there was a lot of financial suffering and ruin.

When the author gives Jerry a dollar in payment, it may seem odd that he only stares at it. Upon closer examination, however, one can infer that the amount of money he held caused him to stare in shocked silence. Using an inflation calculator, one can learn that a dollar in 1936 adjusted for inflation would be equal to $17.32 in 2015. It is reasonable to infer that Jerry had never seen that amount of money before, let alone earned it.

When the author shows her confidence in his ability to care for the dog longer than expected, he replies, "When I heard about the fog, I thought you'd know." Readers can infer that he meant that he figured out she'd be late returning due to the fog, and he thought she'd understand that he would take care of the dog until she returned. One can also infer based on the love Jerry shows the dog that he would likely find a way to care for the dog even if the narrator had been unable to return.

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