Study Guide

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Chapter 16

By Betty Smith

Chapter 16

  • Ah, retail therapy. There isn’t anything quite like it—and it really doesn’t matter to Francie that she can only window shop. It still hits the spot, and she has a few favorite neighborhood stores. 
    • The pawn shop: Francie likes this shop the best because of the three large and beautiful golden balls that sway in the wind above the shop. 
    • The bakery: Francie loves looking at all the treats that rich people can afford to buy. 
    • Gollender’s Paint Shop: This shop displays a plate that is glued back together with a hole drilled into it. A heavy rock attached to a chain hangs from the hole in the plate to demonstrate the strength of the cement they sell. (Fast fact: by cement they mean glue.) 
    • The tobacconist: Francie thinks this is the most interesting store. It is a small little shack-like place that has been there for many years, with a cigar store Indian out front that the neighborhood kids call “Aunt Maimie.” 
    • The tea, coffee, and spice shop: The exotic scents here are wonderful, emanating from bins and other containers of coffee, tea, and spices throughout the store. They all have interesting sounding names, and the shop has beautifully polished scales. 
    • The Chinese laundry: The Chinese man who runs the shop is very mysterious to Francie, and she is fascinated by everything about him: the way he wears his hair, how he writes, the delicate odor in the shop, the mysterious iron that somehow is always hot, and the lychee nuts he gives her when she comes to pick up the clean shirts.. She also loves how he uses an abacus to count on when he makes change.