A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

by

Betty Smith

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Corporal Leo “Lee” Rhynor Character Analysis

A “tall and gangling” twenty-two-year old from a small town in Pennsylvania who does not strike Francie as handsome but whose “shy smile” attracts her nonetheless. He is friends with Joey. On their first date, he and Francie go out for chop suey at a restaurant called Ruby’s. He has siblings back home, as well as a fiancée. He asks Francie if she will spend a night with him before he ships out to France for the First World War, saying that he loves her and wants to marry her when he returns home; she agrees. Later, Francie receives a letter from Lee’s wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Rhynor, telling her that she and Lee recently married, thanking Francie for entertaining him in New York, and apologizing to Francie for Lee’s pretending to be in love with her.

Corporal Leo “Lee” Rhynor Quotes in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The A Tree Grows in Brooklyn quotes below are all either spoken by Corporal Leo “Lee” Rhynor or refer to Corporal Leo “Lee” Rhynor. 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 52 Quotes

“People always think that happiness is a faraway thing,” thought Francie, “something complicated and hard to get. Yet, what little things can make it up; a place of shelter when it rains—a cup of strong hot coffee when you're blue; for a man, a cigarette for contentment; a book to read when you're alone-just to be with someone you love. Those things make happiness.”

Related Characters: Francie Nolan (speaker), Johnny Nolan, Corporal Leo “Lee” Rhynor
Page Number: 457
Explanation and Analysis:

And he asked for her whole life as simply as he'd ask for a date. And she promised away her whole life as simply as she'd offer a hand in greeting

or farewell. It stopped raining after a while and the stars came out.

Page Number: 460
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
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Corporal Leo “Lee” Rhynor Character Timeline in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The timeline below shows where the character Corporal Leo “Lee” Rhynor appears in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 52
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...first, but he wins her over with his shy smile. He later introduces himself as Lee Rhynor. He offers his arm to Francie while they make their way to Ruby’s for... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Lee tells Francie all about his boyhood in Pennsylvania, his family, his school days, and his... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
The next morning, Francie dresses up, expecting that Lee will be waiting for her outside of her work at 5:00 PM. Indeed, he is.... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
On their way home, it starts to rain. Francie and Lee find shelter in the doorway of a vacant store. He announces that he’s leaving in... (full context)
Chapter 53
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Francie writes Lee that night, as promised. On Friday, she receives a letter from Mrs. Elizabeth Rhynor. Francie... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Francie then talks about how Lee invited her to sleep with him. As a mother, Katie worries about the “horrible things”... (full context)
Chapter 55
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Francie likes Ben and is proud to have his friendship, but she still thinks of Lee. She wonders if he is now lying dead in France “under a plain white cross.”... (full context)