Study Guide

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Chapter 43

By Betty Smith

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Chapter 43

  • Francie works in a factory where they make artificial flowers. Her job is to roll some green fabric onto a long wire—making the stem part of the flower. Needless to say, it's really boring work. Francie rolls stem after stem after stem for what feels like forever, but when she checks the clock, only an hour has gone by.
  • Since the work is so repetitive, soon she doesn’t have to think about what she is doing anymore, and this leaves her mind free to think. She thinks about how someone could end up doing this for her entire life to make money so that she can eat and live, in order to come back and work again. This thought frightens her.
  • Her fellow workers give her a hard time. They pick on her and sing mean songs, but when Francie laughs with them at something that Mark, a fellow coworker says, this breaks the ice. The girls accept her now and give her the inside scoop, like that the faster she works, the faster they will all be out of work. It is only temporary work to fill an order. And even more importantly, they tell her where the bathroom is.
  • On Saturday afternoon, she waits for Neeley before walking home. They want to give Mama their first pay together. They each earn five dollars a week.
  • Neeley works in the city at a brokerage, and Francie is super jealous that he gets to go across the bridge every day and eat in restaurants. It all seems very exotic and wonderful to her.
  • They stop at a bank to get fresh, crisp dollar bills to present to Mama.
  • They decide to start a tin can bank of their own and use the savings to buy Christmas presents.
  • Mama gets emotional when they present their money to her, and she leaves to go to her bedroom. Probably so the kids don’t see her crying, Francie speculates.

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