Francie gets a job as a “stemmer”—that is, she attaches stems to fake roses. She gets a rhythm to her work and moves along easily. The other workers are initially hostile to Francie but warm up when she can’t suppress the desire to laugh at the effeminate voice of her co-worker, Mark. After that, they become friends. Neeley gets a job working as an errand boy in a downtown New York brokerage house. Steve got him the job through a friend who works there. On their way home after collecting their pay, they pass Carney’s and Cheap Charlie’s. Francie asks Neeley if he remembers when they collected junk. He says that was a long time ago, though it has only been two weeks since they last turned in junk for cash.
Francie gets her first job to support the family. Francie is initially an outcast at work because she is reluctant to socialize, which makes her seem stuck-up. Unfortunately, her ability to fit in with the others comes at the expense and further ostracism of another employee. Their new jobs makes Neeley very eager to put even the recent past behind them. He wants to imagine a future in which he can be as rich as the stock brokers for whom he works.
Neeley presents a pound package of peanut brittle to Katie for her and Francie to share. He also gives Katie eighty cents that he made from tips. She allows Neeley to keep his tips as spending money. She then gives Francie fifty cents, which she says will be Francie’s weekly allowance. The children overwhelm her with thanks. Katie feels that she is going to cry and goes to the bedroom. Neeley thinks she may be upset. Francie tells him that Katie just didn’t want them to see her cry.
Katie cries because she is happy that the family’s financial situation is improving. Not only are they able to feed themselves, but the children are able to keep a little money for the things they would like to buy themselves. Despite Johnny’s absence—and maybe even because of it—the family is able to progress and escape from the poverty they thought would always entrap them.