A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn


Betty Smith

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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Katie is ashamed to stay in the neighborhood after Johnny’s drinking binge. She finds a house where she can get free rent in exchange for keeping the building clean. Katie packs their few belongings and has it all loaded into an ice wagon. The first thing she does in the new home is nail down the bank in the closet. While she puts up the lace curtains, Mary Rommely comes over and sprinkles the rooms with holy water to drive out devils. By supper time, they are settled in.  After supper, Katie reads the babies to sleep with a page of Shakespeare and a page of the Bible. The Nolans then go to sleep at their new home on Lorimer Street, which is still in Williamsburg but almost where Greenpoint begins.
Katie is ashamed that everyone in their old neighborhood found out about Johnny’s alcoholism. Unlike Sissy, a good reputation is important to Katie. It may have also been important for her to leave the old apartment so that she could put the memory of Johnny’s bad night behind the family. Mary’s act of sprinkling the apartment with holy water seems to be an attempt to ward off another incident like the one that convinced Katie to move.
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