(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Mance Deschênes, Jr., is an industrious ten-year-old paper boy who lives on Montreal’s Hutchinson Street with his alcoholic father and thrifty, caring, but tired mother. Mance works hard and does not think his life of poverty is a hardship. He enjoys going to hockey games and other simple pleasures in life. When his Aunt Lise Schmitz and Uncle Howie Schmitz, a successful dry cleaner with three stores, visit from New Hampshire, Mance begins to see his life in a different light. Howie and his wife always have a new car when they visit, and their children whine because they want things they do not have. Mance does not understand what his wealthy cousins could want when they have many wonderful possessions already.

Mance’s father is hired as a janitor for a new, sixteen-room apartment building that winter. He is paid well, and the family receives a free three-room apartment in a safer and cleaner part of the city. They formerly had lived in the damp basement of the last building in which he worked. Now that they are on the ground floor, however, Mance’s father is unhappy with the incessant ringing of the doorbell. His new income gives them a better standard of living, however, and the family even manages to save some money.

In the meantime, Uncle Howie and his family have packed up to leave their home and successful business in New Hampshire for North Hollywood, Florida. Soon afterward, the family buys a used Plymouth to make the long trip to Florida to visit the Schmitzes for Christmas at their request. Mance’s father has his brother Réal and his family move...

(The entire section is 649 words.)