What did Janie learn about the past from Mrs. Shields?

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Janie Johnson is the protagonist in Caroline B. Cooney's The Face on the Milk Carton . Mrs. Shields is her next-door neighbor and the mother of Janie's boyfriend, Reeve. In chapter three, after Janie has begun to become suspicious about her parents possibly kidnapping her, she visits the Shields'...

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Janie Johnson is the protagonist in Caroline B. Cooney's The Face on the Milk Carton. Mrs. Shields is her next-door neighbor and the mother of Janie's boyfriend, Reeve. In chapter three, after Janie has begun to become suspicious about her parents possibly kidnapping her, she visits the Shields' home and finds Mrs. Shields watching Lassie. She asks what Mrs. Shields might remember about Janie's childhood and learns that they've known one another since Janie was five years old. Mrs. Shields describes Janie as a happy child but explains that Janie's mother was always strict. When Janie asks why, Mrs. Shields brushes it off, explaining that it's not unusual for a parent to be that way. Janie wonders if her mother was strict because she worried the child she kidnapped might put a toe out of line.

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After Janie realizes that the people who she thought were her parents don’t have any photos of her before the age of five, she heads to her neighbors’ home. After finding out that Mrs. Shields has lived in her house for twenty-eight years, Janie uses the opportunity to question Mrs. Shields about her mother and father. Janie learns that her mother was extremely strict. When asked why she was so strict, Mrs. Shields attributes it to parental fear. Janie is Mrs. Johnson’s only child, and Mrs. Shields feels that this explains her vigilance and constant fear that something bad is going to happen to Janie. Janie also learns from Mrs. Shields that at age five she had been a “goody-goody.” Janie wonders if her obedience was due to being afraid of her kidnappers.

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