Study Guide

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Chapter 32

By Betty Smith

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Chapter 32

  • Francie starts a diary on her thirteenth birthday. She hopes she’ll write poetically on topics, but her entries pretty much just stick to the facts of the day. The rest of this chapter is made up of entries from the diary. At one point Mama finds her diary and makes her edit the parts about her father coming home drunk. She makes Francie replace the word drunk with sick. That explains why many of her entries say Papa came home sick. Papa struggles with his alcoholism throughout this year, and Francie notices that sometimes he shakes and has nightmares in the daytime
  • Some highlights from her thirteenth year:
    • Uncle Flittman’s new horse does something worse than pee on him. (So gross.)
    • Sissy claims to be pregnant again.
    • Francie continues to get good writing grades, and they finally finish reading the Bible.
    • They have read Shakespeare four times.
    • Sergeant McShane brings Papa home “sick.”
    • They play the North Pole game for several days. (This is how Katie tries to distract the kids from the fact that they don’t have anything to eat.)
    • They are forced to use all of the money in the tin can bank in order to eat.
    • Mama brings in more work; she does laundry.
    • Francie gets a job washing dishes at a restaurant.
    • Papa goes back to work and makes Francie quit her job, but he is fired soon after.
    • Francie starts her last year of school in September, and her teacher is so pleased with her writing that she says Francie will probably be able to write a play to be performed for graduation.
    • Francie notices that her body is changing and developing.
  • She is tired of writing in her diary and feels that nothing has happened this year. (That is a bit ironic, because quite a bit happened.)
  • Her last entry is about how everyone her age is very interested in sex, and she admits that she is curious, too.

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