Study Guide

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Chapter 13

By Betty Smith

Chapter 13

  • Their new place is on Lorimer Street, which is a bit nicer than their last place on Bogart Street.
  • This flat has a bathroom, which is a huge deal. Francie is amazed by the tub—this is the most water she has ever seen in her life, and is like the ocean to her.
  • They all like their new place.
  • During the summer, Francie and Neeley (the only kids in the building) spend most of their time on the stoop. Francie is just four, but she babysits Neeley, who is almost three. So what do kids do in the summer when they are four and three and have no money?
  • Francie does a ton of thinking as she sits on the stoop and watches her brother. She also talks to her brother a lot (he doesn’t talk much), and does some stitching that her Grandmother teaches her to do. She is pretty darn good at it.
  • The seasons pass, and Katie works harder and harder s Johnny works less and less. He starts drinking more.
  • Katie sticks to the big plan: She reads Shakespeare to the kids, and puts pennies in the tin bank.
  • When it is nice out, Francie plays outside by herself. She is a pretty lonely girl and doesn’t make friends very easily. Other kids think she talks funny because she reads so much Shakespeare and the Bible, and they pick on her which causes some fights and name calling. She really wants someone to play with.
  • Francie sits and pretends that she is playing with the other girls as they sing their songs or play a game called potsy.
  • There is music in the streets of Brooklyn throughout the summer, which Francie loves; Francie, along with many of the other neighborhood kids, follow the wandering street bands around the streets until late.
  • Francie is totally enchanted, and decides she and Neeley will start a band when they are older.
  • She also loves when the organ grinder comes around with his music and his monkey.
  • Francie loves the monkey so much and gives him a penny when he comes around so the monkey will tip his hat to her.
  • There is a lot of music, but life is still not joyful. There is something sad about the musicians and the people they entertain, especially the little kids who are so young and yet so good at taking care of themselves already. Their parents have to work long and hard and don’t have time to take better care of them.
  • Brooklyn is filled with lost people who have no hope for ever making better lives for themselves.