Study Guide

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Chapter 40

By Betty Smith

Chapter 40

  • Francie stays home after lunch because Mama must spend most of her time in bed now. It feels good to be needed, and Francie cleans the apartment and prepares food. Neeley comes home at three to see if Mama is in labor and needs him to get Evy or Sissy. He then goes to McGarrity’s to work both his and Francie’s jobs before delivering the newspaper.
  • Mama is being harsh with Francie today. She refuses to drink or eat anything, and she keeps asking Francie what the time is. Finally, she tells Francie that as soon as Neeley gets home, he must take a nickel and grab a trolley to go get Evy. There is no time to lose by walking—Mama is in labor.
  • Francie apologizes for not being able to comfort Mama as well as Neeley can. Mama explains that men shouldn’t be present during childbirth. She believes it is not right, and that it is mean to make men share the pain.
  • Francie runs up and down the stairs looking for Neeley and checking on Mama. When he finally gets home, she gives him his stuff and his instructions.
  • Francie returns upstairs, and Mama has a lot of blood on her face from biting through her lip in an attempt to silence her screams. While she wipes up Mama’s face, Mama tells her that she would love to read one of her compositions now that she has a little bit of time.
  • Francie explains that she burned them all, and Mama feels horribly guilty that she never read any of them.
  • Francie reads aloud to distract her from her pain, but her face is gray and contorted. After what feels like an eternity, Evy arrives, followed by Sissy
  • They decide among them that since they all have had so many children they will be able to deliver the child themselves.
  • Francie is pretty resentful that she is being left out, and after a while, Evy comes out and orders Francie to go to the store to buy a few groceries.
  • When she returns with the stuff, the baby has been born, and both the baby and Mama are fine.
  • Mama names her Annie Laurie after one of the songs that Johnny loved to sing.
  • Francie thinks the name Laurie is pretty, and Laurie is what they call her.