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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Betty Smith

Chapters 4–6

Chapters 1–3

Chapters 4–6, page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

Chapter 4

Francie goes up to see what costume Flossie Gaddis is wearing to the dance that night. Flossie works as a turner in a glove factory, where she turns gloves right-side-out after they are sewn. She works to support her mother and brother Henny, who is nineteen and dying of consumption. Francie doesn't think he looks like he's dying, and Mrs.Gaddis instructs her to tell him he looks good. Henny is somewhat of a doomsayer about his health, and the three women eventually leave him alone to cry and cough.

Flossie works on three things each week: gloves, her costumes, and Frank. She has a closet filled with pieces of her dresses that she mixes and matches every week. Her costume design includes a long sleeve to cover her right arm, which was burned when she was a child when she fell into a wash boiler. Francie loves looking in her closet, as poor people love "huge quantities of things." By the end of the chapter, however, she imagines a skull and bones coming out from the costumes, for Henny.

Chapter 5

Katie Nolan comes home from the movies with Aunt Sissy, who Francie loves dearly, since Sissy understands little girls so well. Sissy works in a rubber factory, which produces a few toys to hide their main product—condoms. Sissy's husband works for a pulp magazine house, and Sissy brings them to Francie to read and then sell at half price.

Francie tells her mom about the old man's ugly feet, and her mom dismisses her fear, saying that everyone gets old, and they should just get used to it. Then the mother and daughter plan what they will make with their stale bread all week. Sunday supper will be a wonderful meal of fried meat. The narrator also describes "pickle days" on which days Francie buys a big Jewish pickle from a Hebrew man in a neighborhood store. She always asks for a "'penny sheeny pickle'" and although the word "sheeny" makes the old Jewish man angry, Francie doesn't know she is using an insulting word.

Chapter 6

Francie and Neeley go out to buy weekend meat, which includes a trip to Hassler's for a soup bone and Werner's for chopped meat, since Katie Nolan doesn't trust the ground meat at Hassler's. Francie's mother has given her detailed instructions about how to buy—she watch the butcher cut the round, to make sure it's fresh, have him chop an onion with it, and get a piece of fat to fry it with. So many demands make the butcher at Werner's quite angry. She also buys vegetables for the soup. After supper Francie meets up with her friend Maudie Donavan to go to confession. Maudie lives with two aunts who make shrouds for a living, and it frightens Francie when Maudie gives her some old scraps. Maudie has fewer sins than Francie. When they depart, Francie promises to call her.

Aunt Evy, Katie Nolan's sister, and Uncle Flittman are there when Francie gets home. Francie likes Aunt Evy, who's very funny and looks like Mama. Uncle Flittman plays his guitar, and then begins to deprecate himself as a failure, telling a story about how his horse Drummer urinated on him. He also says that Evy doesn't love him anymore. Evy doesn't respond but says it's time to go home.

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Character List

by jessiedude64, July 22, 2012

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

1 Comments

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!

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