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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

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Summary

Chapters 43–45

Summary Chapters 43–45

The scene at the bank teller develops the American dream motif of the novel. This scene dramatizes the bond among American workers. First the teller begins a story of taking home his first pay, then the next man in line. Francie imagines that everyone there has a similar story. She says that all workers "have this one thing together"; just like the pain of childbirth bonds all women together, taking home their first pay bonds all workers. The American dream—the possibility that a son or daughter can do better in life than his or her parents—is symbolized in this act. The mothers cry out of joy that their children can make a better life for themselves.

The fight between Francie and Katie further develops the fall from innocence motif. The cracked cup in this chapter symbolizes the imperfection of the family. When Francie was little, their family seemed strong, like a whole cup. Part of growing up means realizing that parents are not perfect. When Katie "fumbles" trying to pick up the cup, Francie loses an assuredness that her mother will always be strong and do what is right.

As Francie grows older, she becomes more like Katie. This development is the very reason that they can never feel as intimate as Francie and her father. The fight results because both women are certain they are right, and as Francie says, fighting for what she thinks is right is exactly what Katie has taught her to do. Francie also reasons that mother and daughter do not understand one another because they do not understand themselves. Neeley is more loved by her mother because Katie does not see all of her own shortcomings in someone so different from herself.

Since the time of their father's sickness and death, Neeley and Francie seem to have grown closer. As they grow older, they share more experiences and more memories. By the end of the Chapter 45, Francie has also made her peace with God. Now, a whole year after Johnny died, Francie can remember him with tenderness, without losing her religious faith.