Al Capone Does My Shirts Questions and Answers
by Gennifer Choldenko

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In Al Capone Does My Shirts, why does Moose feel that he needs to accept his dad's long working hours even though he doesn't like him being away?

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In Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko, Moose Flanagan is the narrator of the story. He moves to Alcatraz Island with his family, which consists of his parents and sister. It becomes clear early on in the story that his sister is not like other children. She obsesses over buttons and cannot socialize with others the way most children do. She also has a fascination for numbers. The book tells the story of the Flanagan family’s move to Alcatraz and Moose’s transition to life on the island, as well as his response to the things that impact his family.

Moose’s dad is the electrician on the island. However, Mr. Flanagan also earns extra money moonlighting as a guard. Moose writes:

My dad is out there too. He has guard duty in another tower somewhere on the island. My dad’s an electrician, for Pete’s sake. What’s he doing playing prison guard?

Yet a major reason that Moose feel that he needs to accept his father's long working hours even though he doesn't like him being away is that the family is saving money so that Moose's sister Natalie can attend a special school to meet her needs.

In fact, it is clear that Moose does not like living on Alcatraz at all in the beginning. He writes:

I want to be here like I want poison oak on my private parts. But apparently nobody cares, because now I'm Moose Flanagan, Alcatraz Island Boy—all so my sister can go to the Esther P. Marinoff School...Not that I’ve ever been to the Esther P. Marinoff.

Moose loves his sister and sacrifices, along with his family, so that she can have an opportunity to attend what he tells her is “this nice place called the Esther P. Marinoff.”

In some ways, Moose believes that the idea of living on Alcatraz so that Natalie can go to Esther P. Marinoff is crazy, but he wants Natalie to have whatever benefits she might derive from attending the school. He does not want Natalie to be institutionalized. He wonders:

The thing is, we didn’t do that, right? We didn’t put her away. The Esther P. Marinoff will help her, right?

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