A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn


Betty Smith

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A handsome, well-dressed nineteen-year-old and paramour of Francie’s. Ben befriends Francie in the college bookstore when he advises her on how to save money on books. He is very ambitious, serving as the editor of his high school magazine, president of his class, and the half-back on the school’s football team. He also spends his afternoons working for a law firm, and plans to go to law school before eventually becoming a politician. While in college, he enrolls in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. He gives Francie his high school ring, with the promise that, in five years, he will be in a position to marry and she will be “old enough to know her own mind.” Francie acknowledges that she likes Ben “an awful lot,” but she is not sure that she loves him, due to her sense that he is always very sure of himself and is unlikely to need her.

Ben Blake Quotes in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The A Tree Grows in Brooklyn quotes below are all either spoken by Ben Blake or refer to Ben Blake. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Collins edition of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn published in 1943.
Chapter 56 Quotes

She liked Ben. She liked him an awful lot. She wished that she could love him. If only he wasn't so sure of himself all the time. If only he’d stumble just

once. If only he needed her. Ah, well. She had five years to think it over.

Page Number: 492
Explanation and Analysis:

She looked towards the window. Yes, across two yards she saw a little

girl sitting on a fire escape with a book in her lap and a bag of candy at hand. The girl was peering through the bars at Francie […] She was a slender little thing of ten, and her name was Florry Wendy […] She looked down into the yard. The tree whose leaf umbrellas had curled around, under and over her fire escape had been cut down because the housewives complained that wash on the lines got entangled in its branches […] But the tree hadn't died […] A new tree had grown from the stump and its trunk had grown along the ground until it reached a place where there were no wash lines above it. Then it had started to grow towards the sky again. Annie, the fir tree, that the Nolans had cherished with waterings and manurings, had long since sickened and died. But this tree in the yard—this tree that men chopped down … this tree that they built a bonfire around, trying to burn up its stump—this tree lived! It lived! And nothing could destroy it.

Related Characters: Francie Nolan, Ben Blake, Florry Wendy
Related Symbols: The Tree
Page Number: 493
Explanation and Analysis:
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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn PDF

Ben Blake Character Timeline in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The timeline below shows where the character Ben Blake appears in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 49
Education and the American Dream Theme Icon
...her classes in chemistry and Restoration drama, but she struggles with beginner’s-level French—that is, until Ben Blake intervenes. Ben helps Francie with all of her homework and she dreads the end... (full context)
Education and the American Dream Theme Icon
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
A week later, Francie and Ben go out for chocolate sodas. Ben confesses that he likes Francie a lot, though he... (full context)
Chapter 55
Education and the American Dream Theme Icon
...is making plans to go to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Thanks to Ben’s help with cramming, she passes the regents’ college entrance exams. She originally wanted to go... (full context)
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Francie likes Ben and is proud to have his friendship, but she still thinks of Lee. She wonders... (full context)
Chapter 56
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
At 4:00 PM, Francie decides to dress first and then prepare supper for her and Ben. He has tickets for them to see a show. It’ll be their last date until... (full context)