Francie has a story published for the first time, at thirteen years old.
Her story is the best in the entire seventh grade, and it is published in a magazine.
She tries to show it to Mama, but she’s too busy to read it. Mama is pretty dismissive about the whole thing saying “‘Yes, yes. I know. I saw it coming. There’ll be more stories printed and you’ll get used to it. Now, don’t let it go to your head” (30.6).
Papa is at the Union headquarters, so he won’t see it until Sunday, but she knows he will love it.
She can’t take her eyes off her name in print.
Just then, she sees Joanna, a young unwed mother, coming out of her building to take her baby for a stroll. The gossiping women are horrified—they believe that she should be ashamed of her baby and keep hidden away.
Joanna takes great care of her baby and smiles at everyone. Some of the kids smile back, but when she walks by Francie, she doesn’t smile back at her.
Women start harassing Joanna verbally and then throw stones at her. One hits the baby, prompting Joanna to cry, pick up her whimpering baby, and go back inside.
Francie is wracked with guilt because she didn’t smile at Joanna.
As a punishment to herself, she leaves her beloved first published work in the stroller. She goes home and has a really good cry over the whole situation.
She calms down and thinks about the hypocritical behavior of the women, some of whom were definitely pregnant before they got married. She decides that women are not to be trusted, ever.
Suddenly uncomfortable, she rushes upstairs to her room.
Mama comes in and talks to Francie. After realizing what was going on with Francie, she explains that she is having her first period and will be okay. She warns her that this means she is able to have a baby now, so she must always be a good girl and remember Joanna.
Francie will always remember Joanna, but not for the reasons her mother expects.