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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Betty Smith

Chapters 34–36

Chapter 30–33

Chapters 34–36, page 2

page 1 of 2

Chapter 34

Sissy has devised a scheme to adopt a baby, since all her babies have died. Her husband does not want another man's baby, so she must do it without his knowing. Sissy finds a Sicilian family whose daughter Lucia has become illegitimately pregnant. The father keeps her starved in a locked room, hoping that she and the baby will die. Sissy shows up when the father is away, and tells the family she would like to take the baby. She then takes good care of Lucia and befriends the family, except for the father who she never meets.

Sissy's husband is confused and tormented when Sissy, who does not appear to be pregnant, keeps insisting that she is having a baby. When she brings the girl infant home, Sissy flatters her husband John until he is appeased. Only Katie, Johnny, and Francie know the secret; Johnny begins to worry that Katie has deceived him. One night Katie gets her children out of bed to prove to Johnny they are his. Seeing his own reflection in their faces, he knows. She then whispers something unknown in his ear and he leaves the apartment thoughtfully sad.

Chapter 35

Francie, now fourteen years old, and Neeley once again anticipate Christmastime, and tell stories of past Christmases. Johnny has been acting drunk lately, but weirdly, has not been drinking. Money is scarce, and they have oatmeal for supper. Johnny comes home hysterical and crazy, sobbing that the Waiters' Union kicked him out. He cries violently on the kitchen table, and Katie comforts him, until he eventually falls asleep.

Chapter 36

The first sentence of the chapter tells that Johnny died three days later. McShane takes Katie to the hospital, where they put Johnny after finding him unconscious in the street. After she watches him die, she tells her children the next day that they are not to cry for him. A scamming undertaker comes by the apartment, and asks Katie if she has any insurance money. When he discovers that she has $200, he charges her $175. Katie then goes to the hospital where a priest and the doctor are making out Johnny's death certificate. The doctor includes alcoholism and pneumonia as cause of death, until Katie and the priest convince him to leave it as pneumonia. Katie buys new mourning clothes for herself and her children.

The undertaker comes back, asking for more money for the "deed," that is, the plot of land where Johnny will be buried. Katie, knowing full well she is being cheated, takes all the money out of the tin-can bank. She does not nail the bank back down, as she now owns a bit of land.

Everyone sends flowers, showing how well-loved Johnny was. At the funeral, Katie tells Francie and Neeley that people think their reluctance to view the body is because Johnny was not a good father. The children look, and Francie insists to herself (along with Katie) that he was a good father. At the mass, Hildy O'Dair (Johnny's girlfriend before he met Katie) is hysterical, while Katie does not weep. Katie thinks it is good that someone who loved Johnny is crying for him, since she is not. On the way home, Katie sends Francie to pick up Johnny's mug at the barber, and tells her she can keep it. Although she shed no tears at the funeral, once at home, Katie weeps wildly, while Sissy tells her to stop so as not to sadden her unborn child.

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by jessiedude64, July 22, 2012

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


15 out of 39 people found this helpful

must read

by sidneywright, July 11, 2015

This book has touched me in so many ways. Im speechless!