“‘Of course it’s yours,’ Mrs. Price says. ‘I remember you wearing it once.’ Because she’s older and the teacher, she’s right and I’m not.”

Mrs. Price is lying, either to Rachel or to herself. If the sweater belongs to someone else, then she wouldn’t have seen Rachel wearing it. But because Mrs. Price is the adult in the room, and a teacher in a classroom of children, she has the ultimate authority. In this situation, even when Rachel tries to push back and suggest that Mrs. Price is wrong, Mrs. Price is unwilling to consider the idea that she is incorrect. The sweater is a problem and Mrs. Price has found a solution. That the solution is wrong is immaterial. She has demonstrated her power in her classroom, at the powerless Rachel’s expense.

“There’ll be candles and presents and everybody will sing Happy birthday, happy birthday to you, Rachel, only it’s too late.”

The fallout from Rachel’s experience in the classroom will have repercussions. She has been made to feel small and powerless in the face of her teacher’s authority. Rachel tries to hold onto the expectation of joy that she will feel later in the day with her family, but being bullied by her teacher has ruined her birthday. It may go on to ruin her experience with Mrs. Price for the rest of the year. The damage has been done, and it will be difficult to recover any ability to enjoy herself not only today, but in days to come.