The narrative of this chapter focuses on Mick Kelly's point of view. Mick wakes up early in the morning and sits out on the steps reading the funnies, waiting for John Singer to come out. Mr. Kelly, however, tells Mick that Mr. Singer was out late the night before and that he has a guest staying with him today. With nothing else to do, Mick takes her little brothers Bubber and Ralph, puts them in her wagon, and starts walking down the street.
Reaching a big, new house under construction in the neighborhood, Mick climbs up a ladder onto the house's steep roof and has a cigarette. She feels like singing, but no notes come out of her throat. She thinks about her plans to be a big inventor, and about the classical music that she likes. Then Mick hears Ralph crying, so she climbs down from the roof and quiets him.,
Then Mick wanders around the unfinished interior of the house. Taking out some pieces of chalk, she writes the names "Edison," "Dick Tracy," and "Mussolini" on the wall in capital letters. Then she writes "Pussy" on the other wall because she knows it is a bad word. Mick signs her initials M.K. below all of these words. Then she remembers the name of the classical musician whose music she loves, and she writes "Motsart" at the top of the list. Mick goes outside. Bubber climbs back in the wagon with Ralph, and they head home.
Fourteen people live in the three-story Kelly house—Mick, her family, and seven boarders. Mick goes into the room she shares with her two sisters, Etta and Hazel. Etta is obsessed with going to Hollywood and becoming a movie star, so she spends inordinate amounts of time grooming herself. Hazel is the eldest, and is lazy. Mick argues with her sisters briefly, then takes a hatbox from under her bed and goes to find her older brother, Bill.
Mick enters Bill's room and finds him engrossed in reading an issue of Popular Mechanics magazine. She looks around the room at the pretty faces of women he has put up on the wall and at a painting she did in a free government art class the past year. Most of her paintings have large crowds of people in them. Mick looks through all her old paintings and decides that she is not a bad artist but that nothing feels quite as good as listening to music.
Mick opens the hatbox. Inside there is a cracked ukulele strung with two violin strings, a guitar string, and a banjo string. Mick has been trying to make herself a violin from scratch, but as she looks at the clumsy, patchwork instrument she feels defeated. She tells Bill her violin has turned out all wrong. He tells her that a violin is not something you can just make; it is something you have to buy. Mick gets upset, angrily shoves the violin into the hatbox, and runs out of the room.