Likewise, Katie's thoughts allow us to sympathize with her, even in her hard detachment. For instance, she asks God for forgiveness that she sees Johnny as "worthless." She worries about her children growing up in a mean world. These feelings cannot be communicated when she is dismissing Francie's imaginative ideas, or scolding Johnny for his irresponsibility. If not for the omniscient point-of-view, the reader would not understand the emotions that lie beneath Katie's hard personality.

The story of the second lie, like that of the first, demonstrates the difficult relationship between charity and pride. Katie never accepts charity, and Francie knows it. Still, pumpkin pies and beautiful dolls are wonderful things to pass up, and Francie cannot stand it when they are about to go to waste. In both cases, Francie tells a lie to gain a small material good. She herself thinks back to the circumstances surrounding the first lie, when she remembers her teacher telling her to tell the truth and write down a more appealing fiction. The lure of the beautiful doll convinces her that simply writing about it would not do. Even as a young girl, Francie recognizes the self-righteousness of the charity event, as she wonders why they can't just give something away, but must "[talk] about it."

As Francie grows up, she comes to realize the ugly side of poverty, and becomes more of a realist. Her thoughts about the theater show that she is thinking like her mother; she thinks the heroine should marry the villain to "solve the rent problem" for instance, and she knows that if the heroine lost her job, she would simply find other low-wage work.

Chapter 29 demonstrates that Johnny's good intentions never seem to pan out. In his goodhearted way, he pities Little Tilly whose brother beat her out for time at the mother's breast. The details of the fishing trip show Johnny not only as incapable, but also as clownish, falling into the water in his tuxedo and buying rotten fish. Although he makes his children laugh, laughter and suffering are two sides of the same coin. When they return home, we learn that washing the tuxedo will cost the family a whole dollar, and even then it won't be fixed.

Johnny's songs about the sea are representative of his character. He lives his life concocting dreams, just as the songs tell romantic images of the sea. The sea turns out to be terrible, just as his dreams will never materialize.