The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child

by Francisco Jiménez

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Chapter 3 Summary

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Last Updated on September 6, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 311

“Inside Out” opens with Roberto’s complaints about school. He tells Francisco that when he started first grade, the teacher hit him with a ruler because he could not speak English. Roberto had to guess what the teacher wanted.

Francisco is worried, for he cannot speak English either, and he is about to start first grade. The family is in the Tent City on Sheehey Strawberry Farms, and the boys will have a chance to go to school in January. On the school bus, Francisco gets a headache from the noise of the other children yelling. He cannot understand them.

Roberto enrolls his brother in first grade, and the principal, Mr. Sims, walks Francisco to his class. Francisco’s teacher is Miss Scalapino. Francisco does not understand anything, and he consoles himself by watching a caterpillar in a jar. He tries to listen but then lets his mind drift. During recess, Francisco plays with Arthur, who knows a little Spanish, but Miss Scalapino scolds them for not speaking in English. Francisco often stays inside at recess after that and watches the caterpillar. He enjoys art class, and since he does not understand his teacher’s directions, he draws what he wants.

As the weather turns cold, Mr. Sims gives Francisco a green jacket. A classmate, Curtis, claims that the jacket is his and fights Francisco on the playground. Francisco is horribly embarrassed and must give the jacket back. Francisco pretends to be asleep that afternoon, but he notices that the caterpillar has made a cocoon.

Francisco learns more English and becomes more comfortable as time goes on. His drawing of a butterfly takes first prize for art, complete with a blue ribbon. The caterpillar has turned into a butterfly, and Miss Scalapino lets Francisco release it from the jar. Curtis likes Francisco’s butterfly drawing, and Francisco gives it to him.

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