The Cricket in Times Square

The Cricket in Times Square Summary and Analysis of Chapters 11 - 12


Paul puts out the fire with a bucket of water, saving as many newspapers as he can. Once it is out, he calls Papa Bellini to tell him what happened. Chester decides to go back into the newsstand, not wanting the Bellinis to think that he set the fire and ran away. Paul stays at the stand as well until the Bellinis show up, not wanting anyone to mess with the cash register while the newsstand's cover is off.

Mama Bellini is convinced that they are ruined, even though it was only a few stacks of magazines that were lost. Mario is concerned about Chester's safety, but sees that he is still safe in his cage. Paul describes what he saw happen, including seeing animals escape from the newsstand, and Mama is outraged that the cricket brought animals into the newsstand again. Mama thinks the cricket is responsible for the fire, and tells Mario he has to go.

Chester feels awful, because even though he did not start it, the fire is still his fault. Tucker comes to check on him and Chester begins to chirp a sad melody, sure that he will have to leave. Mama is surprised to hear it, and Tucker tells Chester to chirp more, sure that she will like it. He chirps what happens to be her favorite song, "Come Back to Sorrento." It makes her think of living in Naples, Italy, when Papa was courting her. She even begins to sing the song herself.

Mario is shocked; he has never heard his mother sing like this before. When Chester finishes that song he continues on and does more as Mama keeps singing. When Papa comes back from buying a new lock for the newsstand, he is also surprised. When Chester finishes chirping operas, Mama declares that Chester can stay a little longer.

Very early one morning, the animals gather to talk. Tucker declares that Chester is extremely talented, and his talent could fetch them some money. He says the Bellinis are unhappy because their newsstand is doing lousy business. If it were doing good business, they would be happy, and more inclined to let Chester stay. Chester wants to help them because they have been so good to him.

Tucker suggests that Chester learn some new songs, and they put on the radio so that he can begin. This is the start of Chester's musical education. He memorizes many different songs, and begins to play them for the Bellinis the next morning. The Bellinis brag to their customer Mr. Smedley about their talented cricket, who does not believe them at first, but is astonished when he hears it for himself. Mr. Smedley tests the cricket's pitch and finds that it is perfect.

Mr. Smedley is so pleased with the cricket that he decides to write a letter to the music editor of the New York Times, raving about how incredible the Bellini's singing cricket in the Times Square subway station is. He implores everyone who reads to come to hear one of Chester's concerts. It is the start of something much bigger than Chester could ever imagine.


Chester has a true heart of gold and wants the best for the Bellinis, the family that has been so kind to him—this makes it extremely difficult for him to face the truth that he appears to be bringing bad luck upon them. Just like the two-dollar bill incident, the fire brings upon questions of guilt and blame. Chester feels guilty and responsible for the fire even though Tucker was the one who actually started it. But who is really to blame for this fire? Many different people played a role in it, and blame cannot truly be placed with any one person.

Even though this book focuses more on Chester and the other animals rather than the Bellini family themselves, readers can learn about the Bellini's family dynamic by observing them in situations like this. Even though they have repeatedly coaxed her into allowing Chester to stay, both Papa and Mario clearly respect Mama Bellini's role in making important decisions, since Papa advises Mario to listen to her once they realize the situation has become serious. In many respects they look to her for the final say.

The idea of encountering things that remind you of the past is recurring in this book. Chester is often reminded of his life back in Connecticut. In these chapters, though, it is Mama Bellini who is taken back to her past, when Chester begins to chirp "Come Back to Sorrento." She remembers what it was like to be young in Italy, being courted by Papa in Naples. These moments of nostalgia are powerful, and this kind of remembering is often good for one's overall mood, as was true for Mama.

Chester's first formal music lesson in Chapter 12 marks the beginning of the commercialization of Chester's talent. Before, Chester chirped for his own enjoyment. He composed his own music and played it when he felt like it, not because he felt compelled to by anyone else. Now, though, under the supervision of Tucker, Chester is beginning to cater his music to the tastes of humans, learning and practicing as a professional musician would in order to please his listeners.

This marks a drastic shift in the nature of Chester's music. It does not necessarily have to be a bad thing—after all, many professional musicians do what they do because they love it, and making money off of it is simply a bonus—but it will certainly test Chester in many ways he has never been tested before. When we think of New York, we think of capitalism, money, and profit—part of Chester's New York experience will involve coming face-to-face with all of these things.

As Chapter 12 closes with Mr. Smedley's letter to the New York Times, there is a subtle tone that warns, "be careful what you wish for." By publicizing their musical cricket in such a way, the Bellinis may be biting off more than they can chew. They will be tested by this experience just as much as Chester is.