A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

by

Betty Smith

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Francie Nolan Character Analysis

The main character from whose perspective the novel is based. Mary Frances Katherine “Francie” Nolan is the eldest child in the Nolan clan and, predictably, is given the most responsibility while growing up. When the novel begins, Francie is eleven years old and living in poverty in Williamsburg, a neighborhood of Brooklyn. Francie had been a sickly baby and when others predicted her death, her mother, Katie, insisted that she would live, just like the tree that grows out of the grating near their tenement. Francie is also an excellent student and a voracious reader, which later leads to a job at the Model Press Clipping Bureau as a newspaper reader when she is only fourteen. Francie loves both of her parents very much but favors her father, Johnny, for his dreaminess and charm. She has inherited her father’s “sentimentality without his good looks.” Johnny occasionally calls Francie “Prima Donna” and they share many private, tender moments together. However, Francie takes very much after her mother, Katie, in terms of her resourcefulness and practicality. As she grows older, she recognizes that she has inherited “all of Katie’s soft ways,” particularly with men, and half of her mother’s “invisible steel.” Though Francie endures harsh poverty during her childhood, she retains an optimism about life, partly instilled through her love for her family, but also by the books she reads and the inspiration she takes from simple, beautiful things, such as the brown bowl in the library. By the end of the novel, she is eighteen and on her way to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she has enrolled in college.

Francie Nolan Quotes in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The A Tree Grows in Brooklyn quotes below are all either spoken by Francie Nolan or refer to Francie Nolan. 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 1 Quotes

The one tree in Francie’s yard was neither a pine nor a hemlock […] Some people called it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed fell, it made a tree which struggled to reach the sky. It grew in boarded up lots and out neglected rubbish heaps and it was the only tree that grew out of cement. It grew lushly, but only in the tenements districts. You took a walk on a Sunday afternoon and came to a nice neighborhood, very refined. You saw a small one of these trees through the iron gate leading to someone's yard and you knew that soon that section of Brooklyn would get to be a tenement district. The tree knew. It came there first. Afterwards, poor foreigners seeped in and the quiet old brownstone houses were hacked up into flats, feather beds were pushed out on the window sills to air and the Tree of Heaven flourished. That was the kind of tree it was. It liked poor people.

Related Characters: Francie Nolan
Related Symbols: The Tree
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

And the child, Francie Nolan, was of all the Rommelys and all the Nolans. She had the violent weaknesses and passion for beauty of the shanty Nolans. She was a mosaic of her grandmother Rommely's mysticism, her tale-telling, her great belief in everything and her compassion for the weak ones. She had a lot of her grandfather Rommely's cruel will. She had some of her Aunt Evy's talent for mimicking, some of Ruthie Nolan's possessiveness. She had Aunt Sissy's love for life and her love for children. She had Johnny's sentimentality without his good looks. She had all of Katie's soft ways and only half of the invisible steel of Katie […] She was the books she read in the library. She was the flower in the brown bowl. Part of her life was made from the tree growing rankly in the yard […] She was all of these things and of something more […] It was something that had been born into her and her only […]

Related Characters: Francie Nolan
Related Symbols: The Tree, The Brown Bowl
Page Number: 72-73
Explanation and Analysis:

Francie, huddled with other children of her kind, learned more that first day than she realized. She learned of the class system of a great Democracy. She was puzzled and hurt by teacher's attitude. Obviously the teacher hated her and others like her for no other reason than that they were what they were. Teacher acted as though they had no right to be in the school but that she was forced to accept them and was doing so with as little grace as possible. She begrudged them the few crumbs of learning she threw at them. Like the doctor at the health center, she too acted as though they had no right to live. It would seem as if all the unwanted children would stick together and be one against the things that were against them. But not so. They hated each other as much as the teacher hated them. They aped teacher's snarling manner when they spoke to each other.

Related Characters: Francie Nolan, Miss Briggs
Page Number: 152
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

“Look at that tree growing up there out of that grating. It gets no sun, and water only when it rains. It's growing out of sour earth. And it's strong because its hard struggle to live is making it strong. My children will be strong that way.”

“Aw, somebody ought to cut that tree down, the homely thing.”

“If there was only one tree like that in the world, you would think it was beautiful,” said Katie. "But because there are so many, you just can't see how beautiful it really is.”

Related Characters: Katie Nolan (speaker), Francie Nolan
Related Symbols: The Tree
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

As she was about to touch this soft beautifulness, the little girl snatched it away and spat full in Francie’s face. Francie closed her eyes tightly to keep the hurt bitter tears from spilling out. The other girl stood there curiously, waiting for the tears. When none came, she taunted:

“Why don't you bust out crying, you dockle? Want I should spit in your face again?”

Francie turned and went down into the cellar and sat in the dark a long time waiting until the waves of hurt stopped breaking over her. It was the first of many disillusionments that were to come as her capacity to feel things grew. She never liked blackboard erasers after that.

Related Characters: The Teacher’s Pet (speaker), Francie Nolan
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes

A person who pulls himself up from a low environment via the bootstrap

route has two choices. Having risen above his environment, he can

forget it; or, he can rise above it and never forget it and keep compassion

and understanding in his heart for those he has left behind him in the

cruel upclimb. The nurse had chosen the forgetting way. Yet, as she stood there, she knew that years later she would be haunted by the sorrow in

the face of that starveling child and that she would wish bitterly that she

had said a comforting word then and done something towards the saving

of her immortal soul. She had the knowledge that she was small but she

lacked the courage to be otherwise.

Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 22 Quotes

OH, MAGIC HOUR WHEN A CHILD FIRST KNOWS IT CAN READ PRINTED WORDS! […] From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood. There was poetry for quiet companionship. There was adventure when she tired of quiet hours. There would be love stories when she came into adolescence and

when she wanted to feel a closeness to someone she could read a biography.

On that day when she first knew she could read, she made a vow to read one book a day as long as she lived.

Related Characters: Francie Nolan
Page Number: 166-167
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 23 Quotes

Francie was out walking one Saturday in October and she chanced on an unfamiliar neighborhood. Here were no tenements or raucous shabby stores. There were old houses that had been standing there when Washington

maneuvered his troops across Long Island […] She walked on further and came to a little old school. Its old bricks glowed garnet in the late afternoon sun. There was no fence around the school yard and the school grounds were grass and not cement. Across from the school, it was practically open country—a meadow with goldenrod, wild asters and clover growing in it. Francie's heart turned over. This was it! This was the school she wanted to go to. But how could she get to go there? […] Her parents would have to move to that neighborhood if she wanted to go to that school. Francie knew that Mama wouldn't move just because she felt like going to another school. She walked home slowly thinking about it.

Related Characters: Francie Nolan, Katie Nolan
Page Number: 168-169
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 26 Quotes

Gently, Teacher explained the difference between a lie and a story. A lie was something you told because you were mean or a coward. A story was something you made up out of something that might have happened. Only you didn't tell it like it was; you told it like you thought it should have been […] Katie was annoyed at this tendency and kept warning Francie to tell the plain truth and to stop romancing. But Francie just couldn't tell the plain undecorated truth. She had to put something to it […] Although Katie had this same flair for coloring an incident and Johnny himself lived in a half-dream world, yet they tried to squelch these things in their child. Maybe they had a good reason. Maybe they knew their own gift of imagination colored too rosily the poverty and brutality of their lives and made them able to endure it. Perhaps Katie thought that if they did not have this faculty they would be clearer-minded; see things as they really were, and seeing them loathe them and somehow find a way to make them better.

Related Characters: Francie Nolan, Johnny Nolan, Katie Nolan
Page Number: 198-199
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 30 Quotes

Most women had the one thing in common: they had great pain when they gave birth to their children. This should make a bond that held them all together; it should make them love and protect each other against the man-world. But it was not so. It seemed like their great birth pains shrank their hearts and their souls. They stuck together for only one thing: to trample on some other woman […] whether it was by throwing stones or by mean gossip. It was the only kind of loyalty they seemed to have. Men were different. They might hate each other but they stuck together against the world and against any woman who would ensnare one of them. “As long as I live, I will never have a woman for a friend. I will never trust any woman again, except maybe Mama and sometimes Aunt Evy and Aunt Sissy.”

Related Characters: Francie Nolan (speaker), Katie Nolan, Aunt Sissy , Aunt Evy, Joanna
Page Number: 237-238
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 33 Quotes

If normal sex was a great mystery in the neighborhood, criminal sex was

an open book. In all poor and congested city areas, the prowling sex fiend

is a nightmarish horror that haunts parents. There seems to be one in every neighborhood. There was one in Williamsburg in that year when Francie turned fourteen. For a long time, he had been molesting little girls, and although the police were on a continual lookout for him, he was never caught. One of the reasons was that when a little girl was attacked, the parents kept it secret so that no one would know and discriminate against the child and look on her as a thing apart and make it impossible for her to resume a normal childhood with her playmates.

Page Number: 251
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 39 Quotes

One delves into the imagination and finds beauty there. The writer,

like the artist, must strive for beauty always […] Drunkenness is neither truth nor beauty. It’s a vice. Drunkards belong in jail, not in stories. And poverty. There is no excuse for that. There's work enough for all who want it. People are poor because they're too lazy to work. There's nothing beautiful about laziness.

Related Characters: Miss Garnder (speaker), Francie Nolan, Johnny Nolan, Katie Nolan
Page Number: 321-322
Explanation and Analysis:
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

He buttoned up his coat jauntily and Francie saw that he wore their father's signet ring. It was true then—what Granma had said: that the Rommely women had the gift of seeing the ghosts of their beloved dead. Francie saw her

father.

Page Number: 490
Explanation and Analysis:

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:
Get the entire A Tree Grows in Brooklyn LitChart as a printable PDF.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn PDF

Francie Nolan Character Timeline in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The timeline below shows where the character Francie Nolan appears in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
...as “somber,” the word “serene” more appropriately applies to Williamsburg. There is one tree in Francie Nolan’s yard. It looks like “a lot of opened green umbrellas.” It grows lushly but... (full context)
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...morning. They then sleep for the rest of the day with free consciences. On Saturdays, Francie and her brother, Neeley, go to the junkie. Like many other Brooklyn kids, they collect... (full context)
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
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...junk business is located in a former stable that is in disrepair. He always gives Francie an extra penny if she does not shrink away from him when he pinches her... (full context)
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Francie and Neeley then head to Cheap Charlie’s candy store. It is a penny candy store... (full context)
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Francie then goes across the street to Gimpy’s candy store. Gimpy was long regarded as a... (full context)
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Francie walks up Manhattan Avenue to Broadway, which is the location of the finest nickel-and-dime store... (full context)
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It is noon when Francie arrives home. Her mother, Katie, comes in soon after her with her broom and pail.... (full context)
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After Francie puts the eight cents from junk-collecting into the family bank, Katie instructs her on how... (full context)
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At the baker’s, Francie picks out four buns with the most sugar on them. Johnny does not come home... (full context)
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After having her coffee, Francie goes to Losher’s bread factory to buy the family’s semi-weekly supply of stale bread. Francie... (full context)
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When Francie returns home, she finds out that Katie has gone out with Aunt Sissy to see... (full context)
Chapter 2
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The library is “a little old shabby place.” Francie thinks that all of the world’s books are in the library and she plans to... (full context)
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Francie is working her way through the alphabet and is in the B’s. She takes a... (full context)
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Francie reads and feels at peace with the world, alone in the apartment with a small... (full context)
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Francie stops reading when Fraber’s horse and wagon return with their driver, Frank. The horse is... (full context)
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...of the date. Flossie tells him to “go to hell” and slams the window shut. Francie feels sorry for Flossie because she is always running after men. Aunt Sissy runs after... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Johnny comes home at 5:00 PM. He asks where Katie is and Francie says that she went to a movie with Aunt Sissy. Johnny is happy because it... (full context)
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Francie once visited the Union Headquarters to bring Johnny an apron and carfare to get to... (full context)
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Francie pulls her thoughts away from that memory and listens to her father, who is reminiscing... (full context)
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Johnny throws his “half-smoked cigar” out of the window and tells Francie that, if he gets a lot in tips, he’ll use the money to bet on... (full context)
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When Francie returns, she helps her father get dressed then walks with him to the trolley car.... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Francie goes back into her building and visits Flossie Gaddis to see what costume she has... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Katie comes home at 6:00 PM with Aunt Sissy. Francie is glad to see Sissy, who is her favorite aunt. Katie is wearing a jade... (full context)
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...that would normally be thrown out. Katie, instead, dips them in batter and fries them. Francie buys a penny’s worth of brown rock candy, which is crushed with a rolling pin... (full context)
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Sometimes, especially at the end of “a long cold dark winter,” Francie craves only a pickle. She goes to a store on Moore Street owned by a... (full context)
Chapter 6
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When Neeley comes home, he and Francie go to buy meat. Katie instructs them to get “a five-cent soup bone off of... (full context)
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Francie places the order. The butcher is furious when she demands freshly cut meat, despite there... (full context)
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Francie and Neeley then go to Hassler’s for the soup bone. Hassler is a good butcher... (full context)
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Francie then buys “two cents’ worth of soup greens” from the green grocer. She gets “an... (full context)
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...goes out to play with his friends. Maudie Donovan then comes around to go with Francie to confession. The church is “smoky with incense and guttering candles.” When it is her... (full context)
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When Francie gets home, Aunt Evy and Uncle Willie Flittman are there. Uncle Willie is playing his... (full context)
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Before bed, Francie and Neeley have to read a page from Shakespeare and from the Bible, as rule.... (full context)
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Francie and Neeley get out of bed and everyone gathers at the table while Johnny pulls... (full context)
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Neeley goes back to bed and falls asleep immediately. Francie goes back to sitting by the window. Katie and Johnny sit in the kitchen, where... (full context)
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During other nights in the week, Francie overhears “the indistinct voices” of “the childlike bride” who lives with her “apelike truck-driver husband.”... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...is sick. It becomes known in the family as “the sick pillow.” Neither Katie nor Francie know that it was once “a death pillow.” (full context)
Chapter 9
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...him. Johnny begins to feel better. He then suggests that they name their daughter after Francie Melaney. They think that it will mend her broken heart if she can be the... (full context)
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...to the future.” Mary insists that things are getting better for the next generations because Francie was born to parents who can read and write.  (full context)
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Katie insists that she doesn’t want Francie to work as hard as Katie does. Mary says that the secret lies in reading... (full context)
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Sissy goes to Katie’s apartment after work. She declares Francie “the most beautiful baby in the world,” though Johnny is skeptical, given how “blue and... (full context)
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...into bed and gets excited again when Katie tells her about the two books for Francie. Sissy promises that she will get the books and that they will be the baby’s... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Katie insists that Francie will live, but she worries over how fragile she is. This is complicated by her... (full context)
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...Mrs. Gindler warns Katie against her choice, reminding her of her youth, her difficulties with Francie, and Johnny’s unreliability. Before she leaves, the midwife offers her services for when Katie’s time... (full context)
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Francie’s brother is born one week after her first birthday. Unlike Francie, he is born strong... (full context)
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...the Brooklynese nickname Neeley. Neeley becomes Katie’s entire world, with Johnny taking second place and Francie going somewhere in the back of her mother’s heart. Katie is determined to turn her... (full context)
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...loves Johnny dearly, but she is no longer wildly in love with him. She loves Francie because she feels sorry for her. By the time Neeley is a year old, she... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...live in their back rooms. The Nolans’ flat has a bathroom with a bathtub. To Francie, this is the largest body of water she has ever seen. Katie and Johnny work... (full context)
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...plays that she does not understand. Pennies accumulate in the tin-can bank. On warm days, Francie plays alone in the streets or on the stoop. She yearns for playmates, but she... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...the Nolans.” Sissy is laid off from work and, that day, decides to go see Francie and Neeley while Katie is working. She suddenly sees “a handsome tricycle.” It’s unattended and... (full context)
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While Sissy looks through her purse, Francie sees a cigarette box. On the cover, there is a picture of “a man lying... (full context)
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After Sissy leaves, Francie and Neeley stare at the picture. They shake the box and imagine that there are... (full context)
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Katie later questions Francie closely. Later, Katie talks with Evy and they both agree that, for the sake of... (full context)
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...the roof to themselves. On moving day, while Katie argues with the movers, Johnny takes Francie up to the roof, where she can see the Williamsburg Bridge, the Manhattan skyline across... (full context)
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Johnny asks Francie how old she is. She says that she will soon be seven, which means that... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...only reaches the second story. There are four feet of a schoolyard that face onto Francie’s yard. An iron mesh fence separates the yards. Sometimes Francie plays there during recess. One... (full context)
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The teacher’s pet, aware of Francie’s admiration, shows off by clapping erasers behind her back. She then offers to let Francie... (full context)
Chapter 16
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...a pigtail wrapped around his head. It is a laundry with only one window. When Francie takes Johnny’s soiled shirt there, the man whisks it under the counter, takes out “a... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...looking at the clock, she starts the metronome, takes her seat, and begins the lesson. Francie is so fascinated by the metronome that she is paying little attention to how Miss... (full context)
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After each lesson, Katie shows Francie and Neeley what she has learned and makes them practice for thirty minutes each day.... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Francie eagerly awaits her first day of school. She is lonely and wants the companionship of... (full context)
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Francie and Neeley spend the morning making mud pies and nearly forget about the time until... (full context)
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The nurse pulls up Francie’s sleeve and swabs her arm. The doctor makes his way toward her, with the needle... (full context)
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When the needle goes into Francie’s arm, she doesn’t feel it. She is too hurt by the doctor’s words. While the... (full context)
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That night, Francie comes down with a fever and gets an itch in the place where she was... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Francie expects great things from school, but she’s disappointed when she has to share a seat... (full context)
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Francie, thus, quickly learns about “the class system of a great Democracy.” It would seem that... (full context)
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...hour. However, the press of the crowd usually prevents a child from using the toilet. Francie notices that the children who sit in the front row are allowed to leave at... (full context)
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...and nephew in a long time and is lonesome for them, fixes the problem for Francie. Sissy sees them on a November day shortly after she is laid off. She first... (full context)
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...morning, ten minutes before class starts, Sissy is confronting Miss Briggs. She presents herself as Francie’s mother and says that Francie has kidney trouble and could die if she isn’t allowed... (full context)
Chapter 20
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The day Francie comes home from school and reports that she sat next to a girl who had... (full context)
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When an epidemic of mumps breaks out, Katie makes Francie and Neeley go to school with buds of garlic sewn into flannel bags worn around... (full context)
Chapter 21
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Francie likes school, despite “all the meanness, cruelty, and unhappiness.” There are some bright moments, such... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Francie learns to read! Books become her immediate friends. She has one for every mood and... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Francie is out walking one Saturday and ends up in an unfamiliar part of Brooklyn. There... (full context)
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Francie waits up that night waiting for Johnny to arrive home. When he does, she whispers... (full context)
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Johnny and Francie reach the school. He tells Francie that they will find a house and use that... (full context)
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Mr. Morton and Miss Bernstone teach at Francie’s new school, too. During their lessons, Mr. Jenson often squeezes himself into one of the... (full context)
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Francie walks forty-eight blocks each day to get to school, but she loves the walk. She... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Francie counts the days according to the year’s holidays. Election Day seems to be the greatest... (full context)
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...the Mattie Mahoney Association sponsors a boat excursion for children and their parents every summer. Francie is ten years old at the time and as excited as everyone else her age... (full context)
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...of ten tickets that they were given the week before for rides, food, and treats. Francie is tempted to gamble her tickets in a marble game for the possibility of winning... (full context)
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When Francie goes back to her family, Katie asks what the cop said to her. She repeats... (full context)
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...then plays songs that champion what a great man Mahoney is. Late in the afternoon, Francie gets the idea to find him and thank him for giving her such a wonderful... (full context)
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...she dies so that Sergeant McShane can marry again soon and have healthy children. Instinctively, Francie gets up and goes to her father. She takes his hand. Johnny pulls the child... (full context)
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...They distribute the buttons to the neighborhood children. The children play games with the buttons. Francie sees Mattie’s face everywhere but has yet to see the actual man. On Election Day,... (full context)
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On Election night, Francie and Neeley participate in the neighborhood bonfire, contributing the wood they have collected. By the... (full context)
Chapter 25
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Francie notices that her father is drinking more than usual. Francie dreads “the drinking periods” because... (full context)
Chapter 26
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...Day as a day when children wore costumes and penny masks and asked for candy. Francie wears “a yellow Chinaman [mask] with sleazy rope mandarin mustache.” Neeley wears “a chalk-white death... (full context)
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It’s around Thanksgiving time that Francie tells her first “organized lie” and realizes that she wants to be a writer. In... (full context)
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On Monday morning, Francie’s teacher asks her how the poor family liked the gift of the pie. Francie confirms... (full context)
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Francie finally admits that it is all a lie and that she ate the pie. Francie... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...children carols and the store windows fill with “dolls and sleds and other toys.” In Francie’s neighborhood, there is the cruel custom of “chucking trees” that remain unsold at midnight on... (full context)
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Francie has already picked out her tree and it is still there at midnight. At ten... (full context)
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...make a wavering lane. At one end is the tree man and, at the other, Francie and Neeley stand waiting. The vendor agonizes over throwing the tree at the small children... (full context)
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When some of the older boys pull the tree away and find Francie and Neeley standing and holding hands. Blood trickles from scratches on Neeley’s face. The siblings,... (full context)
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It’s difficult to pull the tree home. When Francie and Neeley get to their building, they call Johnny to help them get the tree... (full context)
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Katie imagines how Francie will go to high school one day because she is smart. However, she thinks that... (full context)
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That week, Francie tells another lie. Aunt Evy comes over with tickets to a Protestant celebration for the... (full context)
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The woman invites Francie onstage. Francie delivers her full name as Mary Frances Nolan. The beautiful little girl who... (full context)
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Francie tells Katie that the doll was a prize. She knows that her mother hates charity... (full context)
Chapter 28
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...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... (full context)
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Francie talks to her father about it. Johnny makes her stick out her tongue and then... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...Tilly out of something important. He thinks that she might grow up “thwarted.” He sends Francie to ask if Tilly can go to Canarsie, too, and her mother happily consents.  (full context)
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The next Sunday, the three children set out for Canarsie. Francie is eleven, Neeley is ten, and Tilly is three years old. Johnny wears a tuxedo,... (full context)
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...waxed mustache and derby hat were in the clear.” Johnny warns them not to laugh. Francie doesn’t, but her desire to makes her ribs hurt. Neeley is afraid to look at... (full context)
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Horrified, Francie, Neeley, and Tilly watch Johnny impale an earthworm on a hook. The sun grows bright... (full context)
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After lunch, Johnny rows Francie, Neeley, and Tilly back out to sea. He sings as he rows. Eventually, his hands... (full context)
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...isn’t asking them to lie, but just “not to be too fussy about the truth.” Francie and Neeley understand. The four of them board a trolley. They look strange—Johnny with his... (full context)
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...on the trolley and it gets crowded, but no one will sit next to Johnny, Francie, Neeley, or Little Tilly. Finally, the fish falls out of “the sodden newspaper” and to... (full context)
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...which will cost a dollar to clean and will never return to its original state. Francie and Neeley are suffering from fever, chills, and sunburn. However, they go to bed laughing... (full context)
Chapter 30
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In the summer when she is thirteen, Francie writes in her diary, “Today, I am a woman.” That summer Saturday should have been... (full context)
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Francie shows it to her mother, but Katie says that she has no time to read... (full context)
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Francie has heard her parents talking about Joanna. The baby is beautiful and better-kept than the... (full context)
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...join in spitting on Joanna, but she will not praise her either. She turns to Francie and says that Joanna should be a lesson to her. (full context)
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While watching Joanna that Saturday afternoon, Francie wonders why the girl should be “a lesson.” Joanna is seventeen, friendly, and proud of... (full context)
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Francie gets her lesson from Joanna, but it’s not the one that Katie intended. Often, on... (full context)
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The waves of hurt she feels over Joanna and the baby subside when Francie realizes that something strange is going on with her. She thinks that her heart has... (full context)
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Katie warns Francie to be “a good girl” because she can have a baby now. She says that... (full context)
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Francie repeatedly hears the message “Remember Joanna.” As prompted, Francie never forgets her and hates the... (full context)
Chapter 31
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In the year that Francie turns thirteen, war breaks out in Europe and Uncle Willie Flittman’s horse, Drummer, falls in... (full context)
Chapter 32
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Francie starts a diary on December 15th, which is her thirteenth birthday. The first entry is... (full context)
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In June, Francie gets an A on a composition entitled “My Ambition,” in which she writes about wanting... (full context)
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...“North Pole.” By late July, all of the money from the tin-can bank is gone. Francie gets a summer job washing dishes in Hendler’s Restaurant and Katie does some washing for... (full context)
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...weeks. The family has “wonderful suppers,” then Johnny is “sick” again and out of work. Francie is fired from Hendler’s for being unreliable. In September, Francie enters her last year of... (full context)
Chapter 33
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When Francie tells her mother about her sex curiosity, Katie tells her, “simply and plainly,” all that... (full context)
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When Johnny takes the gun home, he tells Francie and Neeley not to touch it. Francie thinks that the revolver looks “like a grotesque... (full context)
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...this moment, Katie is coming down the stairs quietly. She sees a man coming at Francie, who is frozen to the banister. Katie makes no sound and no one sees her.... (full context)
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Katie grabs Francie’s hand to pull her upstairs but Francie remains frozen. Katie hits her wrist with the... (full context)
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...in the street when he hears the shot. He goes home and hears people mentioning Francie’s name. He goes to his door and pounds on it, demanding to be let in.... (full context)
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...Katie lets them in, along with an intern who performs an examination. After confirming that Francie was not raped, he sees the marks on her wrist and leg and Katie explains... (full context)
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When Francie wakes up the next morning, Johnny is there to tell her it was all a... (full context)
Chapter 34
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Francie hears Aunt Sissy tell Katie that she is going to get a baby. Sissy wants... (full context)
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Katie is the only person whom Sissy tells the truth about Sarah. As a result, Francie finds out, too. Katie also tells Johnny, who then uses it as an opportunity to... (full context)
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...to open the door before he finishes the song, in keeping with their game, but Francie opens the door instead. He sits in a chair by the window. When Francie asks... (full context)
Chapter 35
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Christmas is a week away. Francie’s fourteenth birthday has passed. Johnny hasn’t spoken to the family in more than two weeks.... (full context)
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...that night with a bundle of wood blocks, condensed milk, and three bananas. She tells Francie and Neeley that they’ll have oatmeal again for dinner. With the bananas it’s not so... (full context)
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...people laugh at him when he sings. Johnny sobs as though he can’t stop and Francie edges the door, wanting to run to the bedroom and hide her head under the... (full context)
Chapter 36
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...home and Katie sits beside him until he goes to sleep. Then, she sleeps with Francie so as not to disturb him. Sometime during the night, he gets up and goes... (full context)
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At dawn, Francie wakes up. When Katie notices, she tells her to get up and get dressed right... (full context)
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At the mass, Francie kneels on one side of Katie and Neeley on the other. When the priest steps... (full context)
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Katie, Ruthie Nolan, Francie, and Neeley ride out to the cemetery in the first coach behind the hearse. The... (full context)
Chapter 37
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Katie stays in bed the day after the funeral, and Francie and Neeley wander around bewildered. They walk up Graham Avenue towards Broadway. Christmas passes unnoticed... (full context)
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When Katie lets Francie and Neeley in the apartment, she notices that their faces look tired but peaceful. She... (full context)
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...the birth of baby Jesus. She feels her unborn child move inside of her. Katie, Francie, and Neeley take turns reading from the book. As they read about the birth of... (full context)
Chapter 38
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Just before Christmas vacation ends, Francie tells Katie that she isn’t going back to school. Francie says that, because she is... (full context)
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When Katie consults with Sissy and Evy, Evy insists that Katie pull Francie out of school so that she can get her working papers. They both leave her... (full context)
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Francie is glad for the job at McGarrity’s; it keeps her from missing Johnny. After school,... (full context)
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Mae McGarrity goes up and offers Francie something to eat. Francie lies and says that she isn’t hungry. Mrs. McGarrity insists that... (full context)
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...conversation with her husband, Mae tells Jim that it won’t work out with Neeley and Francie. They look into each other’s eyes while they speak. She tells him to wait a... (full context)
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On the way home from Aunt Sissy’s house one afternoon, Francie tells Katie how Aunt Sissy doesn’t wear her strong, sweet perfume anymore. Katie notes that... (full context)
Chapter 39
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Francie and Neeley are confirmed in May. With confirmation over, Francie has time to work on... (full context)
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Miss Garnder goes on to say that the school cannot put on Francie’s play for the same reason why she is getting C’s in composition. She instructs Francie... (full context)
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Francie starts a novel that day about a girl named Sherry Nola, who is brought up... (full context)
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Francie then thinks about how much she misses Johnny and how she knows that Katie loves... (full context)
Chapter 40
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Katie goes into labor. Katie asks Francie constantly for the time and says that, when Neeley arrives at 7:30 PM, he is... (full context)
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Katie instructs Francie to wrap up Neeley’s things, which he will need overnight. She then asks Francie to... (full context)
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...to suffer such moments of unhappiness. Katie, it seems, knows that she is living. When Francie gets back, she finds out that Katie has delivered the baby. She realizes that Aunt... (full context)
Chapter 41
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Jim McGarrity doesn’t fire Francie and Neeley as planned because his business is booming in the spring of 1916. His... (full context)
Chapter 42
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On the last night in June 1916, Francie graduates. When she watches the graduation play, her eyes burn “with unshed tears.” She thinks... (full context)
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Aunt Sissy takes Francie into the girls’ restroom and instructs her to cry loud and hard to get all... (full context)
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At home, Francie and Neeley’s diplomas are admired. Francie’s is especially admired, due to Mr. Jenson’s fine handwriting.... (full context)
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...Katie insists they are celebrating. When Albie Seedmore, the son of a prosperous grocer, asks Francie out for a movie, Francie agrees after getting her mother’s nodded consent. Aunt Evy prompts... (full context)
Chapter 43
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Francie gets a job as a “stemmer”—that is, she attaches stems to fake roses. She gets... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 44
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Francie works as a stemmer for two weeks until she is laid off. She sees an... (full context)
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Francie works easily. By the end of August, she’s reading more papers and marking more items... (full context)
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Miss Armstrong is the special city reader. Once, in the washroom, Francie overhears someone saying that Miss Armstrong is the boss’s mistress. Francie thinks this may be... (full context)
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Francie learns that there’s a class system at the Bureau. The division is between the better-educated... (full context)
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Just before Labor Day, the boss at the Bureau tells Francie that he and Miss Armstrong are getting married; therefore, she is leaving her job as... (full context)
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Francie knows that the family’s troubles would be over with that money, but she wants to... (full context)
Chapter 45
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It is Christmas again. This year, there is money for presents. Francie takes comfort in not returning to school when she sees how her salary makes life... (full context)
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On Christmas morning, the Nolans attend mass together. Francie thinks that the church is the most beautiful in Brooklyn. Thomas Rommely gave his tithe... (full context)
Chapter 46
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...join in but sing in German. The Irish retaliate with a parody of their lyrics. Francie says that she doesn’t like Germans because they’re too insistent on having their way. Someone... (full context)
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Francie and Neeley go to the roof and stand in the cold night air. Francie is... (full context)
Chapter 47
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After New Year’s, things revert back to the old routine. Francie’s evenings are lonely. The family is only together at supper time. Spring comes early and... (full context)
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...his wife, good job, and three children and intends to stay that way. Sissy tells Francie to write back that she, too, is very happy and has a beautiful baby girl.... (full context)
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...herself and say that it is “less than accidental.” As she gropes for the word, Francie, who has been listening in, offers “coincidental.” A shocked silence comes from the bedroom. The... (full context)
Chapter 48
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On April 6, 1917, the United States goes to war. Francie makes a little time capsule of this moment by sealing a lock of her hair... (full context)
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Soon, Francie, Miss Armstrong, and the boss are the only ones reading papers. Then, Francie is laid... (full context)
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When the subject of high school comes up, Francie says that she refuses to go. Now, Katie protests, but Francie fears that she’ll be... (full context)
Chapter 49
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Francie is excited by her classes in chemistry and Restoration drama, but she struggles with beginner’s-level... (full context)
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A week later, Francie and Ben go out for chocolate sodas. Ben confesses that he likes Francie a lot,... (full context)
Chapter 51
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When it gets cold, Francie enrolls in sewing and ballroom dancing classes. Meanwhile, Mary Rommely, who is eighty-five, prepares for... (full context)
Chapter 52
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One sunny day in the spring, when Francie is sixteen, she leaves work and sees her co-worker, Anita, standing with her boyfriend, Joey.... (full context)
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Lee tells Francie all about his boyhood in Pennsylvania, his family, his school days, and his life at... (full context)
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The next morning, Francie dresses up, expecting that Lee will be waiting for her outside of her work at... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 53
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Francie writes Lee that night, as promised. On Friday, she receives a letter from Mrs. Elizabeth... (full context)
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Francie then talks about how Lee invited her to sleep with him. As a mother, Katie... (full context)
Chapter 54
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When Sergeant McShane comes to the Nolan house, it is the first time that Francie has seen him without his uniform. After playing with Laurie for a bit, Sergeant McShane... (full context)
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Sergeant McShane makes it clear to Francie and Neeley that he doesn’t wish to replace their father, but he would like to... (full context)
Chapter 55
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Francie, meanwhile, is making plans to go to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Thanks... (full context)
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Francie likes Ben and is proud to have his friendship, but she still thinks of Lee.... (full context)
Chapter 56
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...coming on Monday morning for their things. Katie insists on working as usual that Saturday. Francie straps Laurie into her “two-wheeled sulky” and takes her outside. She watches kids lug junk... (full context)
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While out with Laurie, Francie passes by the house whose address she used to go to her preferred school. The... (full context)
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After lunch, Francie goes to the library and asks the librarian, for the last time, if she can... (full context)
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While Laurie naps, Francie packs some of her things into a box, including her Bible, her edition of Shakespeare’s... (full context)
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At 4:00 PM, Francie decides to dress first and then prepare supper for her and Ben. He has tickets... (full context)
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Francie looks down into the yard and sees that the tree of her youth, which has... (full context)