93 pages 3 hours read

Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Does My Shirts

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.


The Importance of Empathy and Understanding

One of the most important ways that Moose develops as the novel progresses is by increasingly being able to put himself in another’s shoes. The more time he spends with Natalie, the more Moose recognizes her as a person with individuality and feelings. He is soon able to accurately gauge her moods and incipient actions, to interact with her in mutually satisfying ways, and eventually to accept her reality as a disabled person rather than sticking to his family’s idealized version of her as a perpetual 10 year old.

Moose’s growing empathy also emerges in his interactions with the people around him. After he witnesses Mrs. Capone interact with Baby Rocky on the boat, Moose is horrified to learn about her subsequent humiliating strip search. He imagines her with Al when he was a small child and rather than being fascinated by the mother of a notorious criminal, he sympathizes with her feelings.

Moose’s natural tendency to humanize rather than objectify also serves him well with the prisoners. Although he is suitably wary of inmate 105 and the man’s fascination with Natalie, Moose can also take in the fact that Natalie has formed a connection with 105 as a positive step forward for her.