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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Betty Smith

Chapter 30–33

Chapters 27–29

Chapter 30–33, page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

Chapter 30

At thirteen, Francie sees her name in print for the first time when her composition is printed in the school magazine. On her way back from buying it she sees Joanna on the street, walking her baby. The neighborhood knows that Joanna's baby is illegitimate—they call it a bastard. She is a beautiful baby, and Joanna takes good care of her. Nonetheless, when Joanna smiles at Francie, Francie does not smile back, feeling like she should not be friendly to girls like Joanna.

A group of gossips have gathered around Joanna, and finally they start taunting her, then stoning her. One stone hits the baby, and draws blood, and Joanna finally goes inside. Francie, out of pity, sacrifices her one magazine, leaving it as a gift for Joanna in the baby carriage. Francie feels so hurt that she goes down to the cellar to recover. There, she discovers that she has had her period for the first time. Katie tells her to "remember Joanna" as she can now have babies. Francie wonders how women can be so cruel to one another.

Chapter 31

Uncle Willie Flittman's horse, Drummer, hates Uncle Willie and often urinates on Willie while he's washing the horse. The horse loves Aunt Evy Katie's sister and Uncle Willie's wife. One day, the horse kicks Willie in the head, knocking him unconscious. While Willie is in the hospital, Evy teaches herself to drive the horse so she can take over Willie's milk delivery route. Evy is the first woman to deliver milk on the route; the men love her. She gives Drummer all kinds of treats. When Willie comes back, they give him a new horse, and give an effeminate young man Drummer. Even so, Drummer must visit Evy every day.

Chapter 32

Francie had started a diary in December, on her thirteenth birthday. Now, nearly a year later, she is reading it. The diary entries take up most of the chapter. Most of them tell that Papa is "sick" again—Katie's way of saying that he is drunk. Other entries mention the "North Pole" game, which the author has explained in earlier chapters. The Nolans play this game when they do not have enough food, pretending they are explorers in the Arctic, waiting for rescue to arrive. Also, the diary tells that Flossie Gaddis and Frank are going to be married, and that Francie is curious about sex.

Chapter 33

People in Francie's neighborhood do not know how to tell their children about sex, mostly because they do not know the correct words. Katie, on the other hand, was determined to answer Francie's questions as best she could. The neighborhood parents did not shy away from telling their children about sexual violence when they heard that a prowler had killed a seven-year-old girl. McShane investigates the case, and arrests the girl's brother, hoping to deceive the real killer into thinking he was safe to commit another crime. This time, McShane would be waiting for him.

Worried the rapist could attack Francie, Johnny borrows his friend Burt's gun. Burt is a night watchman, and sometimes Johnny covers his shift for him so that Burt may run home to make sure his wife is not cheating on him. After a while, most of the neighborhood feels more secure, but Katie still keeps her guard up. One day, she comes home from the house she is cleaning to make sure that Francie is home from school on time. When Francie opens the door at the bottom of the apartment building, she is attacked. Katie comes down the stairs, sees her, and goes back to get the gun. The prowler's penis touches Francie's leg, but that is all he can do before Katie shoots him in the stomach. Katie drags Francie up the stairs, and throws the gun in the wash basin. The police come by, and find out that Johnny's gun is unregistered; he will be charged five dollars. They also say that Katie did not kill the boy, but suggest he will be executed. A careless news reporter gets the details of the story wrong, and Katie is protected from public criticism. Sergeant McShane tries to give Katie money for her good deed, but she refuses it. He thinks that he would like to marry Katie one day.

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by jessiedude64, July 22, 2012

Mr. Seigler
-owns a cheap, dry-goods store

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