Children's Books - Smith, Betty - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn · Read more · CliffsNotes on Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Read more. lesforgesdessalles.info10/13/ AMPage 1e Best ThstOn Smith'steJurNew G o t BetA Tree Grows in Bro. Though it is often categorized as a coming-of-age novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is much more than that. Its richly-plotted narrative of three generations in a.
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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Betty Smith A Tree Grows In Brooklyn There's a tree that grows in Brooklyn. Some people call it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where . LanguageEnglish. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Identifier ATreeGrowsInBrooklynByBettySmith. Identifier-arkark://t7vm92c As you grow in power you will discover things of ity of your own power if you will to develop How to Develop Yo Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
Francie is insulted and she stops writing. In the middle of the night, Johnny returns home from his singing waiter job at a wedding. Francie wants to work in an office but needs to be 16 to do so. He pinches little girls and gives them an extra penny if they do not object. For example, in Chapter 27, both children give Katie a Christmas gift. The narrator describes in Chapter 48 how Francie prepares a time capsule to memorialize the day. Ben Blake:
Here Francie feels the pain of her first love affair.
And with determination equal to her mother's, she finds a way to complete her education. As she heads off to college at the end of the book, Francie leaves behind the old neighborhood, but carries away in her heart the beloved Brooklyn of her childhood.
No matter your age or your place in life the rich prose A Tree Grows In Brooklyn will fuel your dreams and bring joy to your heart as you are transported to another time.
View all 13 comments. My story of this book. I never read this back during my school days though I was probably given the opportunity. I had two elective English classes where we were given a choice between three books, this was probably one but I chose another. Sometime within the passing years I bought a copy and put it in the book shelf that is next to my television, where it has stared at me for years, subtly asking ng is it my turn yet?
When my friend Brina said she was reading this book and did anyone want to r My story of this book. When my friend Brina said she was reading this book and did anyone want to read Al ng with her, I looked at the book and thought, go for it. It was finally this books turn. I opened the page Started reading and fell in love with the story of Francie and her family, living in Brooklyn during the early 's. Kate her mother, a very strong woman who worked extremely hard, Johnny her charming, hard drinking Irish father and her brother Neely a short year younger than herself.
Francie was a remarkable character, how she thinks, the special love she had for her father, who despite his drinking managed to be there when she really needed him. We read as this family weathers changes in livelihood, living conditions and the many changes taking place in the world. Although it was Brooklyn it could have been my neighborhood in Chicago, sixty years later when I was growing up.
Somethings had changed, my neighborhood was Irish, Polish and Italian and instead of being secluded but ethnicity we all played together, in the streets sidewalks and alleys. If there was any division it was between those who were Catholic and went to Catholic school and the public's as we called them, who did not. There were still corner stores and our mothers not driving, we were often sent to the stores. Hard drinking Irishmen, we had those too, the ones who closed the bars and walked home weaving but singing.
This book was so easy to identify with, the characters so realistic, well, I was smitten, wanted good things to happen for them. The one thing that has changed from back then that I envied them for, was the closeness of families, where everyone worked together, remained close. We don't have this anymore in this global world and that's a shame imo. Would I have appreciated all the nuances of family life within this story, the struggles they went through if I had read this when I was in school, I think not.
I think reading this as an adult I was more able to identify and understand what each decision cost them, how hard they fought for survival. I think I read this at the perfect time, plus now it is no longer staring at me unread. Dec 29, Debra rated it it was amazing Shelves: I had heard of this book quite frequently, but for some reason or another never picked it up. Then years ago, my book club decided to read it. What a Joy!
What a Pleasure! I loved reading about this young girl who loved to read as much as I did. How I could relate to her love of going to the library and finding that special book - that treasure! Thus, this book became my treasure. It holds a place on my favorite book list! Francie Nolan is a very poor young girl living in the slums of Williamsbur I had heard of this book quite frequently, but for some reason or another never picked it up.
Francie Nolan is a very poor young girl living in the slums of Williamsburg. Her father is an alcoholic who breezes in and out of their lives. But in Francie's eyes he is a prince. Children often do not see their parent's flaws or perhaps they have the gift of overlooking. She has her father's heart and desperately tries to capture the heart of her hardworking, often harsh, Mother.
Her life is rough. She is a girl who loves to look out her front window on Saturday nights, who loves the chalk and short pencils brought home to her. She finds pleasure in the things she can, while enduring hardships such as no or little heat, lack of proper food, loneliness, assault and loss. She has an interesting Aunt who always has a "boyfriend" My grandmother would call her a harlot. I would also call her loving and kind to her niece and nephew. This book stirs the emotions of the reader.
There is sadness in this book but there is also survival, hope, strength and determination.
The character try their hardest. They are flawed, make mistakes, but always try to do the right thing. Beautifully written book. See more of my reviews at www. View all 20 comments. Aug 17, Julia rated it it was amazing Shelves: Betty Smith's "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" has been passed down through at least three or four generations and is highly regarded as a classic novel perfect for any young adult bent on entering adulthood and escaping from the gaping clutches of a complicated childhood.
While it was not for those reasons that I first picked up "Brooklyn," I came to regard it as one of the finest books that I had ever read. At first glance, it is a very deceitful book: However, as I began to become more enveloped in the life of a young Brooklyn girl dreaming of becoming big, I realized that this tale was not as easy as the superficial first glance had led me to believe.
For one, Francie's sufferings and trials from being the unloved child gave me a special, odd sort of comfort. If she could survive-no, flourish-living in the slums of Brooklyn with a drunk Irish father and a mother who was not always there for her, why could I not do so in absolute comfort?
Granted, my father is not a drunk, nor is he Irish; and my mother is always there for me. Still, as every young adult feels at one point during this trying time, I have often thought that there was no one to whom I could turn for steady support Secondly, Betty Smith wrote the novel in a fluid, page-turning manner.
Her every word supports and encourages the next, while also performing the duty of enticing the reader to keep marching onward. She writes simply and plainly, a very modern woman in a time where their position in society was shifting.
Bold, daring, smart, and at the same time reserved, wise, creative, and thoughtful, Smith wrote a protagonist not only for the shifting ways of the early 20th century, but for all time.
View all 4 comments. Francie stood on tiptoe and stretched her arms wide. And the way the stars are so near and shiny. I want to hold all of it tight until it hollers out, 'Let me go! Let me go! But it is also a metaphor for the novel's protagonist, Franc Francie stood on tiptoe and stretched her arms wide. But it is also a metaphor for the novel's protagonist, Francie Nolan.
She is a sweet, innocent girl who grows and flourishes despite a harsh environment of neglect and poverty. I fell in love with Francie. I loved her childlike innocence and the way she could be so delighted with things we take for granted: I love her pluckiness; I loved the way she refused to conform to the mold her teacher tried to force on her, the way she pulls herself out of poverty by working hard, even though it means giving up on some dreams.
But the novel is about so much more than just Francie. This is a beautifully moving portrayal of the human condition and the plight of the downtrodden, similar to the work of Steinbeck, though more hopeful. There is so much American pride coming from the point of view of poor immigrants and their children. The heroes of this book are not great men.
They are ordinary people. They are flawed. And they are beautiful. I just want to hold all of them tight until they holler out, "Let me go! View all 9 comments. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a quiet, gentle, understated and yet at the same time unexpectedly scathing at times book that offers a window or a view from a fire escape, if you please into a little corner of the world a century ago, and yet still has the power to resonate with readers of today. After all, the world has moved forward, yes, but the essential human soul remains the same, and the obstacles in human lives - poverty, inequality, cruelty, and blind self-righteousness - are in no dange A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a quiet, gentle, understated and yet at the same time unexpectedly scathing at times book that offers a window or a view from a fire escape, if you please into a little corner of the world a century ago, and yet still has the power to resonate with readers of today.
After all, the world has moved forward, yes, but the essential human soul remains the same, and the obstacles in human lives - poverty, inequality, cruelty, and blind self-righteousness - are in no danger of disappearing. It had pointed leaves which grew along green switches which radiated from the bough and made a tree which looked like a lot of opened green umbrellas.
Some people called it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed fell, it made a tree which struggled to reach the sky. It grew in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps and it was the only tree that grew out of cement. It grew lushly, but only in the tenements districts. If you ask me, I think it's a story of people simply being people, the good-bad-and-ugly of humanity.
There are so many things coexisting in the pages of this not-that-long book. On one hand, it's a classic coming-of-age and loss-of-innocence tale centered around the experiences of a young girl growing up in Brooklyn in the first couple of decades of the 20th century. On another hand, it is a social commentary taking on the uglier parts of human lives and human nature - the parts that Francie was cautioned against writing about as they are quite 'sordid': On yet another hand yes, I'm running out of hands here it's a story of American dream - hopeful and determined.
I don't want to live to get charity food to give me enough strength to go back to get more charity food. On yet another hand apparently my 'hands' example may as well involve an octopus it is a chronicle of a struggling Brooklyn family with the love and resentment and strong ties that only the members of the family can try to understand. On some other hand, it's a story of what it meant to be a girl and then a woman in the world of a century ago in America. And, on yet another hand, it is an ode to Brooklyn that through the prism of this book appears to be a universe of its own.
It is also a story of opportunities lost and opportunities gained despite the odds. It's a story about the will to survive no matter what, about iron-clad will and determination, about hope despite the odds, despite being, for all intents and purposes, on the bottom of the barrel. It's a story about learning to love and respect and compromise and give up - and frequently all at the same time.
It's a story about being able to open your eyes to the world around you as you grow up and learning to see this world for what it is, and accept some of it, and reject some, too. It has love and loss and pain and happiness and wonder and ugliness - all candidly and unapologetically presented to the readers allowing them to arrive at their own conclusions just as Francie Nolan has arrived at hers.
Apparently when this book was published in mids, it caused a wave of disappointment and disagreement with the subject matters it raised, the subject matters that some of the public, like the well-meaning but clearly clueless teacher Miss Garnder in this book, probably found too 'sordid' for their taste: It seems there was too much of the social message presented with not enough of polishing it and coating it with the feel-good message.
And yet the system - as well as the still-not-understood undershades of human psyche - instead of uniting these people in their hardships ends up somehow pitting them against each other. That privilege was reserved for a small group of girls They were the children of the prosperous storekeepers of the neighborhood.
Francie noticed how Miss Briggs, the teacher, beamed on them and seated them in the choicest places in the front row. These darlings were not made to share seats.
No, this book does not fall into the pitfall of somehow glorifying poverty. Allow me to quote Terry Pratchett here: Neither did the fact that if you live in a poor neighborhood and get an education there, you are at a disadvantage as compared to your peers Francie tried to combat that by finding a way to attend a better school in a better area - but using the ways that would surely condemn her in the eyes of the general public had she done it now, like quite a few people try to.
And the fact that as we continue to proclaim the benefits of Democracy as Johnny Nolan did his whole short life while poverty continues to run rampant and the rich continue to be rich is perhaps one of the saddest things that you take from reading this book. My children must get out of this. They must come to more than Johnny or me or all these people around us. On one hand, Francie and her mother Katie and her grandmother Mary all support the idea of education eventually being able to help you get out of the cycle of poverty.
On the other hand, through Francie's eyes we see the flipside of this believe in American Dream - the shrugging off the problems of the poor by those who are a bit more well-to-do under the mistaken beliefs that a they understand exactly what the poor are going through like Francie's teacher Miss Garnder 'understood' poverty because - oh the horror! We all admit these things exist. The writer, like the artist, must strive for beauty always. There's really little plot in the way we, modern readers, frequently think of such.
Most of the book seems to be comprised of little vignettes connected to each other, placed to shed light on different aspects of the lives of the Nolans and the Rommelys, to present different edges of their personalities and to show the wider picture of the time and the neighborhood where they live.
We get to experience Katie's determined strength, Johnny's unabashed hopefulness mixed with weakness, Sissy's love and disregard for arbitrary societal limitations, and Francie's curiosity and desire for life and learning. Look at that tree growing up there out of that grating. My children will be strong that way. Yes, she is far from an ideal heroine. She is naive and impressionable, sometimes frustratingly so.
She can be meek and allow others to take advantage of her and direct her life - to the point when we, readers from the time when women can vote and have achieved some resemblance of equality, start getting frustrated with her. But she has this insatiable curiosity for life and desire to rise above her low station in life, and inner backbone and character steel that she appears to have inherited from her mother Katie Katie, who is a true cornerstone of this book, the source of its inner strength and resilience that allows the Nolans to have hope for the future - all the traits that make the reader cheer for this quiet and yet determined young woman who will ultimately find out what's best for her in life while always remembering where she comes from.
Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere - be deceitful. Back then I would have judged so many characters harshly, seeing the world from a quite privileged perspective of a person who had the luxury of education and only experienced a few years of significant poverty that was followed by a reasonably comfortable life afterwards.
Now, with a bit more life experience on my shoulders, I cannot help but adore the quiet heart of this story and the different shades of life and people that it portrays. View all 23 comments. View all 10 comments. Aug 23, Fabian rated it it was amazing. The tree that grows in Brooklyn isn't about Brooklyn at all. It's an encapsulation of the experience of the immigrant, with the first generation American-born as astonished observer. And liver.
She describes things that are f The tree that grows in Brooklyn isn't about Brooklyn at all. Even our own America. View all 7 comments. I felt like the last person in the world to have read this book, and based on what everyone has said about it over the years, I expected this to be the next best thing after the Crispy Potato Soft Taco at Taco Bell.
But as I read the first pages, I thought everyone was out of their freaking minds. This , I thought, is what everyone has been raving about for as long as I can remember? I even did a quick peek at my GR friends list - you people love this book. I couldn't figure out why.
It starte I felt like the last person in the world to have read this book, and based on what everyone has said about it over the years, I expected this to be the next best thing after the Crispy Potato Soft Taco at Taco Bell. It started coming together for me somewhere after the page mark.
Things actually started happening, and the chapters weren't just excuses to explain some sort of mundane aspect of Francie's life. I don't need a lot of melodrama in my literature, but there needs to be some sort of conflict. Some sort of obstacle to overcome. Some sort of tension. This book lacked that for a good portion of the story.
When things did get interesting, I started to understand why so many people love this book. Personally I don't love it. It didn't make me weep, though I admit to tearing up maybe once. I think this is another one of those books that I should have read when I was much younger to have a full appreciation for this coming-of-age novel. I can appreciate it for what it is. But it didn't change my life. View all 35 comments. High school students, U.
It is a tribute to Jeanette Walls that I could not get through this book without comparing it dozens of times to The Glass Castle , with The Glass Castle coming off as its genius granddaughter or fashionable little sister.
No regrets! I could not help wondering why Betty Smith wrote this story as fiction rather than memoir, and the fact of it being fiction made me notice a lack of complexity in Francie It is a tribute to Jeanette Walls that I could not get through this book without comparing it dozens of times to The Glass Castle , with The Glass Castle coming off as its genius granddaughter or fashionable little sister.
Smith did not love, admire, and criticize Francie in the same way she did the Rommely sisters or Johnny Nolan. It is difficult to treat yourself as a fictional character.
At the same time, the comparison of the two books is also a tribute to Jeanette Walls because A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a very wonderful book with many, many beautiful moments.
I enjoy photographs that take something ordinary or dreary in real life and turn it into something interesting and beautiful, and this book is the written equivalent of that. There is a section of this story when Francie meets with her English teacher, in which Smith states one of her theories on writing, and it has stuck with me. Her teacher dislikes these stories and tells Francie that successful writing is always about something beautiful and better than life.
She also finds that once she has begun writing about real things, it would be superficial to write about anything else.
I read for pleasure, and so when an author seems absolutely bent on being vulgar and unpleasant, it makes me angry. I like for fiction to be beautiful and better than life. At the same time, Smith made me realize that my argument is a myopic generalization.
The descriptions are even important, because it is so easy to oversimplify classes of people into noble or lazy, rather than seeing the complexity of individual situations. While I enjoyed most of this book, I did not love it. I think this was because I did not love Francie, or even have a very definite image of who she was. I loved all of her family members and the stories of their lives.
I would never argue that this was not an important book, and I am glad I read it. As fiction and even as a coming of age story, there was not a specific plot point drawing me through the book, as most of the events were pretty well foretold from the first pages.
I am looking forward to watching the movie, though, as I think I will benefit from having a face for Francie. View all 15 comments. Mar 27, Calista rated it really liked it Shelves: This feels autobiographical. It does seem to be based off the childhood experiences of Betty. The beginning went into the history of the Nolan family and I'm sure this set the stage, but it dragged and I almost stopped reading. I felt like it took forever to read this book.
It was worth it. The story does grow inside you somehow. This is not the usual genre I read.
They lived poor and there was a stress always about where the money was This feels autobiographical. They lived poor and there was a stress always about where the money was going to come from.
Somehow it does, although the family's small enough dreams need to be further curtailed. Through Katie's determination, Francie and Neeley are able to graduate from the eighth grade, but thoughts of high school give way to the reality of going to work.
Their jobs, which take them for the first time across the bridge into Manhattan, introduce them to a broader view of life, be- yond the parochial boundaries of Williamsburg. Here Francie feels the pain of her first love af- fair. And with determination equal to her mother's, she finds a way to complete her education. As she heads off to college at the end of the book, Francie leaves behind the old neighborhood, but carries away in her heart the beloved Brooklyn of her childhood.
Discussion Topics 1. In a particularly revealing chapter of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Francie's teacher dismisses her essays about everyday life among the poor as "sordid," and, indeed, many of the novel's characters seem to harbor a sense of shame about their poverty.
But they also display a remarkable self. You've reached the end of this preview. Share this link with a friend: In the same way, Katie combats the mumps epidemic by tying book. Once again the children do not get sick. The kerosene and garlic further isolate Francie, however, who still has no friends. The doctor is not accustomed to treating the poor and plans on going into private practice in Boston when he completes his training.
He has no connection to the poor and no interest in helping them. The nurse and the school teachers, however, are from the community. They have been poor, but teaching and nursing are two ways in which the poor can escape poverty.
At that time in history, neither job required the kind of education that was required by the end of the twentieth century. Most nurses at inner-city clinics are on-the-job practical nurses, and many teachers have completed only the eighth grade.
Although the women in these professions are only just a step away from the poverty of Williamsburg, they have forgotten their origins and the compassion that they should feel for those who have not escaped. The story of the vaccinations and the fear they evoke in the poor immigrant community is a reminder that everything that immigrants encounter once they arrive in the United States is new to them and is often quite frightening.
Now they are being asked to surrender their healthy children for a vaccination that will give them what they have fled across the ocean to escape.
Vaccinations make no sense to the new immigrant population, who instinctively fear what they do not understand. The school symbolizes a larger problem for the immigrant community. The flood of immigrants into some areas of New York City has put a strain on all public and social services. Children attend neighborhood schools, but when tenements and apartment buildings are crowded with families and many children, neighborhood schools become crowded, as well.
There are few bathrooms, but they must accommodate these extra children. The poverty in the area makes poor children behave cruelly to one another. Some children become bullies, who then bully their classmates by not allowing them to use the bathrooms.
There is a reason why Francie is wetting her pants, but Katie works hard and is undoubtedly so focused on the survival of the family that she is oblivious to the torture Francie is enduring every day. Sissy, whose mothering instincts are very good, is able to quickly assess the situation and act upon it. Sissy may be injudicious in her sexual choices, but there is never any doubt what a wonderful mother she would make, if only she can be given the opportunity.
Sissy serves as a good contrast to Katie. Francie needs an advocate, and her Aunt Sissy is always on her side. Summary Chapters 21—23 Chapter The music teacher, Mr. Miss Bernstone teaches art. Both Mr. Morton and Miss Bernstone love the children, regardless of how poor they are. Their weekly visits are the one bright spot in an otherwise unhappy educational process.
Francie has finally learned to read. When she realizes that she recognizes words and then phrases and sentences, she is thrilled. Francie also devises a game to help her learn arithmetic. She imagines that each number is a member of her family, which allows her to visualize arithmetic and understand it better. One day, Francie walks beyond her immediate neighborhood and finds herself in a neighborhood where there are no large apartments.
She sees a lovely brick building, which is the school for that neighborhood. Francie is enchanted by what she sees and wants to attend this new school. When her father comes home that evening, Francie is waiting for him and asks if she can attend the smaller school. Francie and her father walk to see the new school.
When they arrive at the school Johnny begins to sing and tells Francie that they must find book. They need an address to give to the school so that they can prove that Francie lives in the neighborhood.
When she hears about it, Katie is not in favor of this lie, but she does not stop Johnny from writing a letter arranging for Francie to transfer to the new school. Johnny explains to Francie that the lie is for the greater good, which makes it okay. Neeley expresses no interest in changing schools, so Francie enrolls at the new school by herself. She loves her new school and does not mind that she must walk 24 blocks each direction to school. In the new school, children are not beaten or mistreated.
The principal and teachers are wonderful, and even the janitor is well liked, generous, and friendly. Readers already know from the first chapters of the narrative that Francie loves books and the library and that she reads a book a day.
Her ability to create human stories out of her arithmetic problems further reinforces the comment from Miss Tynmore the piano teacher that Francie must become a writer. Both traits suggest a more promising future for her than the existence of hard labor that Katie must endure.
As is common for the children of immigrants, they tended to fare better than their parents in many ways. The new school that she enters is far superior to the old one. The parents whose children attend this school have lived in the United States for many generations. Francie does not have to share a desk, and the new teachers, who are not forced to deal with many more students than they can possibly handle, tend to be kinder and more generous with their time.
In the old school, the only nice teachers were the two who visited once a week, but in the new school, all the teachers are caring and kind to all the children, not just the students who are rich. In the old school, Francie was the only child in her class who could claim to be an American, book. In the new school, all the children are Americans.
Francie is careful in choosing Johnny to support her desire to change schools. She knows instinctively that Katie would not be helpful, because if the old school is good enough for Neeley, it is good enough for Francie, too. It is Johnny who helps Francie get into the new school. Johnny is not always an attentive father, but it is clear in these two instances how much he loves Francie.
Since his early death was predicted in Chapter 8, readers already understand that when Johnny dies, Francie will lose the one parent who actively cares for her emotional well-being. Summary Chapters 24—26 Chapter Johnny is a Democrat, so the family attends a celebration staged by the Mattie Mahoney Association, a Democratic organization, which includes a boat ride and picnic. The boat ride and picnic are designed to entice women, who will soon get the vote, and children, who will eventually be old enough to vote, into becoming Democrats.
Sergeant McShane notices Katie and admires her beauty. Katie also notices him and asks about him. Johnny has begun to drink even more, but on those occasions when he is sober, he tries to be a better father to his children. On one of the days that he is sober, he takes Francie and Neeley to Bushwick Avenue to show them what they can achieve from living in a Democracy. Anything is possible in the United States. At Thanksgiving, all the children dress in costumes and go into the neighborhood stores to beg for treats.
Because certain stores depend on the children to buy candy the rest of the year, several of the shopkeepers provide treats on this day. This Thanksgiving begging is a long-standing tradition that is over by noon.
At school, one of the girls brings a small five-cent piece from home. Francie says she will take it and give it to book. Francie eats the pie, as she had intended to do all along. The next day when the teacher asks about the pie, Francie makes up an elaborate story about the poor family to whom she gave the pie, which does not fool the teacher. Commentary Chapters 24—26 Johnny is a Democrat because he needs to believe in the promises of politicians, who offer hope for a better future.
The more pragmatic Katie already distrusts politicians and says that when she can vote, she will vote to throw them all out of office. Katie is too much of a pragmatist to ever believe in the promises of politicians. She is practical enough, however, to take advantage of the free boat ride and picnic offered to prospective Democrats in hopes of recruiting more votes.
Francie notices that Katie smiles when Johnny tells her that she will vote as he instructs her to vote. It is further evidence that Katie will not be controlled by Johnny. When Francie loses her tickets, McShane tells her that it is rare for a girl to lose tickets. The boys more often lose tickets, which further enforces the model that Katie and Johnny present. In losing her tickets, Francie is more like her father, willing to take chances that are risky. Katie, of course, scolds Francie for not being more careful.
Johnny may not be a good provider, but his efforts on behalf of his children are a reminder that he is more than just an unreliable husband. Thus far, the narrator has related several holidays, including the fourth of July, Halloween, and Election Day. In this chapter, readers learn about Thanksgiving, which involves customs that modern-day readers would recognize as more indicative of Halloween. The episode with the pie is a reminder that food is an important focus in the lives of a poor, often-hungry family.
The pie is not good and Francie does book.
Readers also learn that Francie has a habit of lying or exaggerating the truth. Writing provides a way for her to tell the story the way she wishes it to be, which will also help her to tell the story the way it really happened. Chapters 27—42 Summary Chapters 27—29 Chapter One Christmas the children go to a tree lot, where at midnight, the tree lot owner will throw the leftover trees into the crowd.
If the person who catches the tree can remain standing, he or she can keep the tree. Francie and Neeley are determined to catch a tree. The man throws the first tree, which is always the largest tree left on the lot.
For a moment, the tree lot owner feels a twinge of guilt over throwing such a large tree to the children, but then he reasons that if he simply gives it to them, everyone will expect the same treatment.
The man throws the tree, and the children do catch it. Katie understands that the best way for the children to escape their poverty is through education. On Christmas Day, the family exchanges gifts. Later, the children are able to attend a Christmas party for poor children. The organizers are giving away a doll to a little girl, whose name is Mary.
Francie claims that her name is Mary, and she receives the doll. As she returns to her seat, other children call her a beggar. Francie feels guilty about the lie, but then discovers that her full name is Mary Francis Nolan. Francie thinks about becoming a playwright so that she can write plays about real situations and people.
Johnny decides that the children should see the ocean and takes them fishing. Johnny and the children spend several hours in the boat and the children end up with sunburns. He feeds them a huge lunch, which makes them sick. Johnny was forced to buy some fish, since he did not catch any, but he buys rotten fish.
When they arrive home, Katie is angry and tells Johnny that he is not fit to be a father. She has already learned that one school did not live up to her expectations, but now she has further evidence that the world can be a cruel place. Although she is able to claim the doll at the Christmas party, she also understands that this was another effort to provide charity to the poor.
Francie realizes that the people who created the charity event and who provided the doll to be given away are helping poor children only to make themselves look good. They do not just give to the poor; they gloat over their giving and make the children feel worse about being poor.
He realizes they can be hurt, but he cannot back down and simply give them the tree. He does not wish them to be hurt but also understands that it is a rough world and sometimes people get hurt. The children might as well learn that the world is tough.
In some way, Katie feels as if Francie has rejected her. Katie acknowledges that Francie is smart and driven and that she will succeed in escaping the poverty of her upbringing.
Katie also thinks that Neeley can become a doctor and escape being poor, but that he will need her help. As Francie grows up, she actually becomes more like her mother. She puts away the romanticism of her father and, indeed, recognizes what his drinking costs the family.
She becomes pragmatic and more of a realist than her mother has been since Francie was born. Francie wants to rewrite the plays she sees at the theater because she realizes that the heroines in the plays should make practical choices for survival and not romantic choices, which will fade under hardship. A song he knows tells of the romance of the sea; taking the children to the ocean to fish was another of his romantic dreams.
Francie watches as an unmarried mother takes her baby out for a walk in her buggy. The older married women are aghast that the girl is proud of her baby and begin to call the child a bastard. At first the girl, Joanna, ignores the women, but eventually their harassment is so loud that it cannot be ignored, and when Joanna stands up to them, the older married women begin to throw stones at her.
One of the stones hits the baby on the head, drawing blood. At that moment, the women become ashamed and walk away. Francie is deeply ashamed. Francie does not understand why they would not stick together and help one another. She vows never to have a woman friend.
Willie is mean and abusive to the horse, which finally retaliates by kicking Willie in the head and knocking him out. Drummer loves Evy because she is good to the horse. The horse works hard and helps Evy with the milk route. Women are not permitted to work these kinds of jobs, though, so as soon as Willie is well, he returns to work. Drummer, however, refuses to work for Willie, and eventually Willie is given another horse. Francie began writing in a diary on her thirteenth birthday.
It is now a year later, and she is reading the entries. Francie is curious about sex, so her mother tells her everything that she knows about the subject. This is unusual, since in this neighborhood, sex is the one subject that no one discusses. Katie is much more matter-of-fact about the topic than the other parents. A rapist-murderer is in the neighborhood, and all the parents are very concerned. Johnny has borrowed a gun from his friend, Burt, and keeps it under the pillow in their bedroom.
One day, Francie walks into the building and the rapist, who has been hiding under the stairs, grabs her. When Katie sees the man attacking Francie, she quickly goes back to their apartment, grabs the gun, and shoots him in the stomach. The book. Commentary Chapters 30—33 These chapters focus on sex and the relationship between men and women in several different ways.
Readers learn that a woman who has a child out of wedlock, regardless of the circumstances, is an outcast and not fit for any kind of decent society. When the women were harassing and stoning Joanna, Francie remembered that one of the women had barely been married before her first baby was born.
Poor Joanna never had the opportunity to have her sin erased, so she is a pariah in the community. Francie cannot understand how women cannot support one another. She understands what hard lives women have, so their lack of sympathy for Joanna and their ability to turn on one another are shocking.
Francie also wonders why the sweet love that she noticed when she saw Joanna and her boyfriend together ended in this shame. The hypocrisy of women is also something she discovers. Francie notices that men stick together, helping one another and defending one another.
Women, on the other hand, attack one another. Francie decides that except for her mother and aunts, she will have nothing to do with women. In earlier chapters, readers saw how Sissy was unafraid of gossip, and in these chapters, readers see that Evy and Katie are equally brave in facing gossip.
Evy takes on the milk route because the family needs the income and because she knows that she is capable of doing the job. The next generation is also learning that gossip is destructive. Katie had previously warned Francie not to speak to Joanna, but after the stoning incident with Joanna and her baby, Francie wishes that she had been brave enough to smile and say hello to Joanna.
There is little doubt that she would be brave enough in the future. She is able to do the route because it is done in the dark and no one will see that she is a woman.
If Willie had been as good to his horse as Evy is, the horse would never have kicked him. All the Rommely daughters are strong women, and all understand that the need to survive and to protect their children is their first priority.
Summary Chapters 34—36 Chapter In spite of all the babies who have died, Sissy still wants a baby. She learns of a young girl, Lucia, who is unmarried and pregnant. Sissy visits the family one day when the father is not home. She offers to adopt the baby and to provide food for Lucia and her siblings and mother during the pregnancy. She convinces her husband that she has given birth to the baby and that he is the father.
One day, Johnny comes home and is crying hysterically. The Waiters Union has kicked him out and is demanding their union pin be returned. Johnny is extraordinarily proud of his union pin, and the thought of not having it makes him fall to pieces. After awakening the next day, Johnny leaves the apartment and disappears for two days.
Finally, McShane appears at the door to tell Katie that Johnny has been found unconscious in the street and he is dying. McShane takes Katie to the hospital, where she sits and watches Johnny die. The next morning, Katie tells the children that their father has died and not to cry. The doctor at the hospital wants to list alcoholism and pneumonia as the cause of death, but Katie is adamant that alcoholism not be listed book.
The priest supports Katie, so the doctor lists only pneumonia as the cause of death. Many people loved Johnny, and the outpouring of love provides some small comfort to the family.
He is only With all his worries gone, he looks as young as he did when he and Katie were first married. Katie is still unable to weep, though. Once they arrive back home, Katie begins to weep uncontrollably, but Sissy tells her she must stop to avoid harming her unborn child. This is the first indication for readers—and for Francie and Neeley—that Katie was pregnant when Johnny died. The agreement between Sissy, Lucia, and her mother is the union of three women, all of whom have the welfare of the unborn baby at heart.
At the end of Chapter 36, readers learn that Katie is pregnant. That is the secret that she whispered to Johnny at the end of Chapter Johnny looked sad at the news because he has been unable to support two children and now there will be a third child. Johnny has quit drinking, as Francie noted in her diary, but he continues to book. The occasional singing waiter jobs have been the only income he has brought into the family in a long time; now with no source of even occasional income, he is devastated.
The death of his job portends the death of his body. Although Katie nagged Johnny about his drinking during his life, in death she makes sure that he will not be remembered as a drunk. Johnny may have had his faults, but as Sissy told Katie shortly after they married, everyone has a weakness. Summary Chapters 37—39 Chapter Although Francie continues to attend church with her mother, she tells Neeley that she no longer believes in God. Katie says that the family needs to return to their usual customs, so that night, they will read a story from the Bible.
It is unusual for Katie to kiss her children, but that evening, she kisses both of them before they go to bed. The new baby is due in May. Katie is worried about how she can earn enough money to feed the family, when she is unable to work as hard as normal.
The best thing, everyone tells Katie, would be for Francie to quit school and get a job, but Katie refuses to even consider this choice. She prays to Johnny and asks him to help her. McGarrity, who owns the saloon where Johnny most often did his drinking, genuinely loved Johnny and valued his conversations with him. McGarrity offers after-school jobs to Francie and Neeley. After her father died, she began writing about poverty, drunkenness, and death.
The teacher does not like these topics and wants Francie to write about beautiful and pleasant things, as she did in the past. However, Francie realizes that all the writing that earned her good grades was about things that she had never experienced. With Johnny dead, Francie is especially lonely. It is also a way for Francie to work through questions that she has about death and why some people die so young. Francie is especially worried that Katie will die as well. Although Johnny dreamed his life away and never achieved the success he wanted, McGarrity achieved financial success but never achieved his dream of having a family like the one Johnny possessed.
His family made it so. Grief has changed Francie. One change has been in her writing. She uses the compositions that she writes for school as a way to work through her anger, disappointment, and grief.
Instead, the teacher wants Francie to write only about pretty things. Summary Chapters 40—42 Chapter Although Francie has long known that Katie does not love her as much as she loves Neeley, Francie now feels closer to her mother because she needs her help. When Katie goes into labor, she tells Francie to send Neeley for Evy. Francie tells her mother that maybe Neeley could be of more comfort and that Francie should leave. But according to Katie, men do not belong at a birth.
Katie reassures Francie that she needs her and not Neeley. All the neighbors hear Katie screaming as she gives birth. This is a pain that all women understand and share, and it is a pain that Katie wanted to spare her daughter. The men worry about prohibition, women voting although most men think their wives will vote as they are told , and whether the United States will enter the war in Europe.
There are also concerns about being identified as having too German a heritage and about the new technology of machines that might replace people. Both Francie and Neeley graduate from elementary school and receive their diplomas. Their two graduation ceremonies are on the same night. Aunt Sissy accompanies Francie to her graduation. Francie dreads entering her classroom, since the tradition is that each girl receives flowers for graduation. Francie knows the family cannot afford flowers, but when she looks at her desk, there is a large bouquet of roses on the top of the desk.
The card says they are from her father. Sissy explains that Johnny signed the card a year ago and that he gave her the money to buy the roses before he died. The whole family goes out for ice cream to celebrate.
Katie knows that both children should go to high school, but she also knows that the shortage of money means that achieving that goal will be very difficult.
Commentary Chapters 40—42 In these final chapters of Book 4, the family story begins the transition that will mark significant changes in all their lives. The birth process, from which Katie sought to shield Francie, instead pushes them book. With graduation, the children have achieved more than the children of many poor families ever achieve.
It is not enough for Katie, though, who knows that the children need more education to escape the poverty of their childhoods. Instead of simply celebrating this milestone, Katie is also thinking about the future and all that still needs to be accomplished. When she sees the flowers and the card with his signature and realizes that his death is real, she finally accepts that her life will continue without her beloved father.
Francie is surprised, though, to learn that the girls in her classroom all liked her and wanted to be her friend. Francie has spent a lifetime isolating herself from other girls, as a way to protect herself from hurt and disappointment. The friendship offered by her classmates suggests that Francie need not be as lonely in the future as she has been in the past. Other changes are also in the air. Chapter 41 is a reminder that society is about to change for both men and women. Prohibition will be an unsuccessful attempt to eliminate alcohol from society and to change how people behave.
Women will finally get the vote in a couple of years in , and although men worry about women voting, the political process will not really change. The war will change all their lives, as sons are sent off to fight a war.
Women, like Katie, worry about the war and their sons, while men worry about war and technology, which threatens to change all their lives. Chapters 43—45 Summary Chapters 43—45 Chapter During the summer after graduation, Francie and Neeley both get jobs. Francie begins to work at a factory, where she makes tissue flowers all day.
At the end of their week working, Francie and Neeley stop at the bank to change their wages into brand-new dollar bills. Katie is overcome with tears when the children give her their earnings, and she goes into the bedroom so they will not see her cry. Francie wants to work in an office but needs to be 16 to do so. After she buys more grown-up clothing and puts her braids up, Francie looks old enough to pass for 16, even though she is only Francie is very good at her job and is given a large raise.
Francie does not want to tell her mother about the raise, since she assumes quite correctly that her mother will want her to keep working instead of returning to school.
Francie wants to begin high school in the fall, but Katie decides that one of the children will need to work. Even though Neeley does not want to go to high school, Katie decides that he is the one who will attend school. She reasons that Francie loves school so much that she will find a way to continue her education, but Neeley will make no effort.
Accordingly, he must be forced to attend school. This decision results in a serious family fight, but in the end, Katie forces everyone to do as she wants.
At Christmas services at church, Francie is once again accepting of God and her Catholic religion. Although she is only 14, she has had to pretend to book. This is an age at which many girls are considered adults and are engaged or married.
Although she is not really 16, Francie reasons that looking older and pretending to be older have made her older. Letting go of the romanticized view that she had of the world outside of Williamsburg has also made her more mature.
She is pragmatic and a realist at heart. It is easy for readers to see how much Francie is like her mother. Francie understands what her mother does not—that mother and daughter are very much alike. Francie already knows that she does not want a lifetime of working in a factory like so many of the girls who work there. She imagines the dreary existence of factory work and knows that she needs an education. Francie is not tempted by the higher salary she is earning, but she also understands that her wages make a huge difference in how well the family lives.
In spite of the financial incentive, Francie does not want to make the sacrifices her mother asks of her. The ensuing fight with her mother changes forever the relationship between the two. Francie sees her mother fumble as she picks up a cracked cup and realizes that their family, which at one time seemed whole, is also cracked. Katie cannot continue to support the family and hold things together as she has in the past.
She needs help. Katie reasons, quite correctly, that Francie will be able to complete her education in spite of the interruption that working creates. The pain is no longer as fresh. In the year since his death, the family has had to endure many celebrations, birthdays, and holidays without Johnny. They have learned that they can survive such a devastating loss.
Katie wants her children to have an easier life than she and Johnny provided. McGarrity has given the family a bottle of brandy, and Katie prepares a punch with the brandy. Neeley already knows that alcohol makes him vomit, and he does not like throwing up. Neeley has been playing the piano and singing at the ice cream shop. Unlike his father, who was forced to sing what people requested, Neeley plays only what he wants to sing.
Sissy, however, is not as lonely. After her first husband dies and she finds out that the second one has divorced her, Sissy and Steve are married in the Methodist church, and Steve is finally happy and convinced that Sissy will not leave him. Sissy finally tells Steve that she adopted their baby girl, but he is not upset. It was Steve who told Sissy about Lucia and her situation, which was that she had become pregnant after having an affair with a married man. Sissy is also pregnant again, for the eleventh time.
It is April 6, , and the United States enters the war in Europe. Soon, the business is shut down and Francie is out of a job. She sees the loss of the job as an opportunity to try something else.
Francie wants to sign up for summer college courses and explains to her mother that she will never go to high school. She is too old and knows too much to sit in a classroom with children, who have no experience with life.
Francie has been reading the papers at the clipping bureau, and she has already educated herself. Steve proves that he is finally the man to stand up to the Rommely women, as his insistence that he book. The old flirtations and the need for men to adore her have been replaced by her love for her daughter. Francie may not be writing as she did in school, but she continues to see herself as a writer. Her quick memory and attention to detail have served her well in each of her jobs, but they will also be of value in the future.
She is no longer content to stand on the roof and watch the world, as she and her father used to do when she was younger. Although enrolling in college courses is so frightening for Francie that she is literally sick to her stomach, there is never any doubt that she will succeed. Summary Chapters 49—51 Chapter Francie loves college. A boy that she met in the bookstore, Ben Blake, helps her acclimate to her classes. He is only a senior in high school, but this is his third summer taking college courses.
Ben helps Francie study for her final exam in French, which she passes.