As Mrs. Olinski watches Margy greet the students who had participated in her (Margy's) wedding, she feels a sudden rush of anger and jealousy. She is "blinded by jealousy," and finds herself inexplicably "on the verge of screaming with pain and rage."
The children have befriended Mrs. Olinski at a time in her life when she is very vulnerable. She has survived a horrific accident which has left her a paraplegic, and she has just made the brave step of returning to her old occupation as a teacher. Mrs. Olinski is at first uncomfortable and unsure in the classroom, and her discomfiture is immediately recognized by The Souls, Nadia, Ethan, Julian, and Noah. The four children resolve to help their teacher with her difficult adjustment, and before she knows it, Mrs. Olinski is drawn to them, developing strength and confidence with their unqualified support. When she sees Margy greeting the children, who obviously have close ties with her, Mrs. Olinski feels insecure and somehow displaced, and reacts with jealousy and rage.
Margy is the grandmother of Ethan, is married to the grandfather of Nadia, and Noah had been the best man at their wedding. Although she has no tie with Julian, she is very demonstrative in greeting the other three children. In addition, Margy had been the principal at the school where Mrs. Olinski worked before her accident. To see Margy take center stage with the children Mrs. Olinski has grown to love and depend upon, along with what must have been an onrush of memories of the life she herself once had had before becoming a paraplegic, must have been very difficult for Mrs. Olinski to handle all at once.
Mrs. Olinski is so unsettled at the gushing reunion she witnesses between Margy and her students that she almost loses control of "her mental censors and her customary good manners." Fortunately, Julian's father Mr. Singh intervenes at just the right moment with his calming presence, and after awhile, Mrs. Olinski finds an inner peace which helps her deal with the confusing situation with insight, politeness, and civility (Chapter 5).