The Cricket in Times Square

The Cricket in Times Square Summary and Analysis of Chapters 9 - 10


Mario decides that if Chester is eating two-dollar bills, something is not right with his diet. Mario has been giving him all of his favorite foods, but perhaps what is good for a boy is not good for a cricket. He decides to take Chester back to Chinatown to see what Sai Fong recommends.

Sai Fong invites Mario and Chester inside. In his kitchen, there is an entire Chinese meal cooking on the stove, and one of Sai Fong's friends, an old Chinese gentleman, is sitting in the room as well. Sai Fong introduces Mario as the boy with the cricket, and the man gets excited. Sai Fong invites Mario to share their meal, and gives him a traditional Chinese robe to wear as well. They place Chester in the middle of the table so he can taste too.

Mario tries all sorts of noodles, rice, vegetables, and even duck, learning how to use chopsticks in the process. Chester tastes everything, too, in a small saucer that Sai Fong puts out for him. After they finish eating, Mario explains that he is worried about Chester's diet. In response, Sai Fong and his friend pull out a big book and read through it until the find the story they were looking for, about a princess in ancient China who had a pet cricket and fed him mulberry leaves.

Luckily Sai Fong has a mulberry tree outside his window. They pick off a leaf and feed it to Chester, who likes it but is too full from dinner to eat much of it. He is extremely content, though, and begins to sing his cricket song, treating them all to a concert. The two Chinese men love it. It is late, though, so Mario decides to go back home, but Sai Fong tells him to come back any time to take more leaves for the cricket.

Time passes, and after the Bellinis leave one night, Chester spends a while cleaning up the newsstand so that the animals can have a party to celebrate his two month anniversary of coming to New York. Tucker is responsible for gathering food, and has even managed to acquire iced soft drinks from the lunch counter. Harry shows up just in time, having gone down to Washington Square to hear an open-air chamber music concert. He says that not even the violinist played as well as Chester can.

They put on the radio during the party and Harry sings along when his favorite song comes on. Tucker makes fun of him, but Chester says that Harry sings beautifully. Harry asks Chester to take a turn. Chester chirps his music, thinking of his meadow back home, and the other two listen happily. Harry asks him to play something they know, but Chester is not sure, since all of his songs are his own compositions. He listens carefully to the radio and soon realizes he is able to replicate the songs he hears.

Tucker announces that since Chester can sing and he can dance, they should go into Vaudeville. He throws himself into a twirl, but cannot see where he is going and topples over into a box of matches. When the matches fall onto the floor they strike the ground, lighting a bunch of newspapers on fire. The fire spreads and they have no way to put it out, plus they are trapped in the newsstand by it. Chester leaps onto the alarm clock on the newsstand shelf and turns it on, hoping that someone nearby will hear and take the cover off the newsstand. Paul, the shuttle conductor, does, and they jump to safety.


In many ways, Mario and Chester parallel each other. Even though Chester is the one thrown into a new environment, Mario is experiencing new things, too, as a result of Chester's presence in his life. In the previous chapter, readers saw Mario develop a new sense of responsibility, dedicating himself to working until he could pay back the money that Chester ate. In these chapters, Mario is actively reaching out and exploring new areas of his own city, meeting new and interesting people that change his views in the process.

When analyzing this book, it is important to remember that it was written during the 1960s, when certain stereotypes were more likely to make it into published literature than they would be today. The Cricket in Times Square has been criticized for its portrayal of the Chinese, primarily because of its description of the way they speak. Other books written at this time contained similar stereotypes of different groups.

Controversy aside, Sai Fong and his friend are still warm, kindhearted characters, and they help to further a theme of friendship across all sorts of boundaries, including cultural. Mario is distanced from Sai Fong not only by the many Manhattan streets between Chinatown and the Times Square subway station where his family works, but also by the difference in their cultural practices. However, Chester has brought them together in friendship despite all of this, and Mario learns that he and Sai Fong are not so different after all.

Between chapters 9 and 10, Selden has a lot of time pass in order to juxtapose the Chester who is just getting used to New York with the Chester who has grown comfortable here over the course of two months. Whenever a large amount of time passes as quickly as that in a story, it is intended to show some kind of change in the characters. In this case, Chester has become used to his surroundings and even started develop his own rhythm to the tune of life in New York City.

However, Selden also throws in an unfortunate event to disturb the comfort: a fire. Just when things are settling down, Chester is becoming comfortable, and the animals are celebrating, an accidental fire comes in to disturb the peace and create more conflict. Chester and the other animals do not intend for any harm to come to the Bellini family—they all love the family very much—but no matter how much they try to avoid it, somehow trouble happens anyway.

This fire will certainly not mean anything good for the family financially, since their newsstand may be ruined and it may be difficult for them to profit off of it. Somehow Chester will need to turn their prospects around. Luckily, others outside of the family have already started to notice Chester's beautiful musical abilities, and in Chapter 10, Chester even learns things about his ability when he starts imitating the music on the radio. The conflict over the Bellini's financial situation is swiftly coming to the forefront, and Chester's musical skills will have a lot to do with its resolution.