Chapter 3 Summary

Dolores’s mother is having a nervous breakdown. She stays in her robe and does not wash her hair. One morning, she awakens to find Petey dead at the bottom of his cage. She becomes even more despondent and uncommunicative.

Dolores is in the home virtually alone. Her father has not only to another city, but he has taken up with a new woman and opened a flower shop with his girlfriend. Despite his distance and separation, Dolores calls him, frightened by her mother’s behavior. It is decided that Dolores must go live with her grandmother.

The move away from Jeanette and familiarity proves difficult for Dolores. She is tormented by two bad-tempered twin girls, Rosalie and Stacia, every day as she walks to school. To make matters worse, Jeanette stops sending letters. Dolores feels very alone.

One day, she receives an unexpected package from her mother, who has lived in a mental hospital since Dolores alerted her father. The painting is one she had created in art therapy. It is odd to say the least. A woman’s disembodied leg floats against a blue sky and clouds. On the foot is a red high-heeled shoe. From its thigh “grew parakeet-green wings.” Dolores does not know what to make of the painting. She hides it behind her bed.

In August, Grandma enrolls Dolores in parochial school, a first for the former public school student. Dolores is scared; she has heard nothing but frightening stories about Catholic school. To make matters worse, the twins also go to St. Anthony’s.

At lunchtime, Dolores tries to sit with various students but is shunned or ignored. Back in class, Dolores discovers one of the photographs in her history textbook has been altered to look as if the teenagers in the photo are saying pornographic things.

The twins continue to make life miserable for Dolores, especially Rosalie. Dolores has an idea. When Rosalie’s attention is turned elsewhere, Dolores exchanges her history textbook for Rosalie’s. Then, at confession, Dolores claims that she did not tell anyone that she had seen Rosalie create “filthy, immoral things” in her book. For her omission, she asks for forgiveness.

At the end of the day, there is a “surprise” inspection of students’ textbooks. Rosalie, of course, is caught, and her punishment is very severe. Every afternoon for the next month, Rosalie must stand with her nose in the center of an X on the blackboard.

Dolores returns home, immensely pleased with herself and her ability once again to feel covertly powerful. As a reward, she eats a bag of potato chips and two dishes of pudding. Before she goes to sleep, she hangs her mother’s picture above her bed.