The author presents the theme through the character of Jerry. Jerry has three siblings, Armand his eldest brother and Yvette and Yolande who are his sisters. Their parents take care of them, although Armand and Jerry work part time to supplement their father’s income (p 1).
As the story begins, Jerry does not understand the importance of the family when compared to material possessions. He saves money meant for his fare to the movies so that he can buy chewing gums and get the picture of Ken Maynard. His hard work and savings earn him thirty five cents which he intends to spend on the purchase of the chewing gums.
At the same time, his father’s birthday is near, and they are to contribute a small amount so that they can buy their father a gift. The other siblings contribute a dime each, but Jerry is stubborn and obsessed with the pictures, he contributes a nickel. This is not enough and thus, after much pressure from Armand, he contributes a dime but still retains the extra twenty cents (p 2).
Jerry describes his elder brother has a stranger because he always makes his own rules and regulations and even sides with both mum and dad in decision making. Jerry proceeds to purchase the chewing gum but finds out that the company will no longer manufacture them. Disappointed, he hurries back home and finds his brother and sisters have already gone uptown to purchase a gift for their father.
He peddles his bike fast, but he is still late and finds they have already bought their father a tie for a present. Jerry feels naked and exposed since he has betrayed his brother and father. Armand is dignified when talking to him. He tells him that at least he has learnt a lesson (p 3).
The lesson he learns is valuing his family more than material possessions. The same way their dad paid and took his sisters for piano lessons even though, it was during the depression.
Jerry becomes more caring and considerate to his family. He even begins to understand his elder brother whom he had earlier referred to as a stranger.
Jerry changes both in character and emotionally; character wise he becomes determined to find the complete set of the presidents’ picture, and he is willing to cycle to a new town to find the pictures missing in his set, emotionally he understands his brother’s feelings of love after finding the letter addressed to Sally and wonders why people actually fall in love. Although he is young, he argues that love is just a folly, and he hates it as it makes someone depressed (p 4).
Different family woes take place, for example the father and brother lose their jobs; furthermore, his brother falls in love. It is during this time that Jerry discovers from his brother that the next town has lots of President Cleveland pictures. He hurriedly cycles there to find the picture; after which, he does not complete his own set but sells it to Rollin Tremaine for five dollars. Hence, Rollie is the one who gets the glove and shows it off to everyone.
He gives the money to his brother who purchases a corsage for Sally and a new black shoe for the dance. He also helps his dad clear out some of his debts (p 6). Thus, as the story ends, Jerry has changed and got matured; he now understands the meaning of family compared to material possessions, and he does not regret his deeds but rather calls them fine and noble (p 9).
Cormier, Robert. President Cleveland, Where Are You? New York: Jamestown, 1998. Print.