Study Guide

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Chapter 26

By Betty Smith

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Chapter 26

  • We are back to learning about their holidays. Next up: Thanksgiving.
  • On Thanksgiving morning, the boys and girls put on cheap costumes and go to the local businesses to get treats.
  • Shop owners who have something to gain by keeping the children’s good favor, like the candy-store and the baker, give out little treats. The shop owners that have nothing to gain from their business throughout the year either lock their places up or give them lectures about how bad it is to be beggars.
  • They eat a lovely meal of pot roast and listen to Papa talk about Thanksgiving days when he was a boy.
  • Francie learns a very powerful lesson one year on the day before Thanksgiving.
  • At school, some children put on a performance that involves holding some Thanksgiving symbols like corn, a turkey leg, apples, and a small pumpkin pie.
  • At the end, the teacher asks if anyone would like the pumpkin pie. No one raises her hand because they are taught by their families not to accept charity.
  • Finally, Francie can’t take it anymore and raises her hand.
  • The teacher gives her the pie, but to save face, Francie says that she’s going to give it to a poor family.
  • She eats the pie on the way home for lunch, and she thinks it tastes pretty gross, kind of like soap.
  • When she returns after lunch, her teacher asks if the family enjoyed the pie, and Francie starts telling a very unbelievable story about these twins who would have died had it not been for the pie she gave them.
  • She realizes that she took her story too far and feels remorse. When the teacher (who definitely knows Francie is telling a tall tale) gives her a hug, Francie comes clean about lying. The teacher says she will not punish her for having an imagination. Instead, she gives her a strategy: tell people what happens the way it actually happens, but then write down the story as she would like to tell it—with all the exaggerations and additions. The teacher says, “Tell the truth and write the story” (25.32), which is the best advice Francie's ever received, and she starts writing.

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