The future always seems close to Katie and other adults, while it is always far away to a child. Between Francie’s eleventh and twelfth birthday, the future seems to come along faster. The death of Henny Gaddis has something to with it. Neeley also grows to be a foot taller. Maudie Donovan moves away and, when she returns to visit after three months, Francie sees that she has developed in a womanly way. Francie stops watching Mr. Tomony come home on Saturday nights because she now finds it silly that he has so much money but won’t live in Manhattan. Then, she realizes that nothing around her has really changed; she is changing.
Francie is experiencing the future more quickly because she is growing up. Part of growing up is having more of a concept of time. Another aspect of it is losing the romantic, idealized vision of a child in favor of a clearer-eyed view of the world. Some would say that Francie is becoming more realistic, but her attitude toward Mr. Tomony seems jaded and judgmental, reflecting some of the more unfortunate tendencies of adults.
Francie talks to her father about it. Johnny makes her stick out her tongue and then diagnoses her with “a bad case” of growing up. Growing up spoils Francie’s enjoyment of the games Katie and the children would play when money ran out to buy food, such as pretending that they were stranded explorers in the North Pole. Francie also notices how tired Katie looks. Finally, growing up makes Francie less satisfied with the theater. She starts going to plays and thinking of how to improve the endings. She finds it easy to write dialogue and quickly decides that, when she grows up, she will write plays.
Growing up also makes it harder for Francie to endure poverty; she finds it more difficult to happily pretend that things aren’t as hard for her family as they actually are. Even the theatrical world is less satisfying. The upside to this is that, instead of contenting herself with things as they are presented to her, she thinks of ways in which she can make them better. Realizing that she can create her own outcomes is her first step toward adulthood.