Study Guide

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Chapter 49

By Betty Smith

Chapter 49

  • Here’s how the classes are going:
    • Chemistry: Francie loves it, and the whole idea that nothing is really destroyed but instead just changed into something else fascinates her.
    • Drama of the Restoration: After reading so much Shakespeare in her life, this class is totally do-able for Francie.
    • French: Oh, heck no. This class is for people who already have a little background knowledge in French; there is no way she will pass the class, but she still goes and tries to learn vocabulary at least.
  • Ben Blake, the guy that Francie talked to in the bookstore, ends up being her guardian angel. This guy is your classic overachiever—an honor high school student, excellent athlete, president of the class, editor of the school magazine, takes college courses, and works at a law firm in the afternoons.
  • Ben has his whole life planned out, and his ultimate goal is to be the governor of the state; anyone who knows him believes he will achieve whatever he sets out to achieve.
  • Everyone loves him, and Francie is no exception. In fact, she has it pretty bad for him.
  • She sees him every day, and they talk a lot.
  • When she tells him that she is going to fail French, he helps her prepare for the exam for an entire day.
  • It works and she passes. Yay.
  • She and Ben meet to get their transcripts a week later and go out for chocolate sodas.
  • He tells her that he likes her a lot, but he has no time for girls at all right now and will see her next summer. (How wonderful and how awful for poor Francie.)
  • Francie applies to a college; however, they will not accept her for full time study without a high school degree. But all is not lost. If she passes an exam, she will be accepted without the high school degree. She takes the exam but fails.
  • It isn’t over yet, though: Now that Francie knows what to expect to be on the exam, she will teach herself what is needed and pass the exam next summer.
  • They put her on the day shift at work, but tell her she can go back to nights in the summer if she wants to.
  • She is painfully lonely again and thinks of Ben often.
  • The neighborhood seems somewhat changed now that gold stars are appearing on tenement windows (meaning a son has died in the war). The boys that stand around on the corners don’t seem quite as happy anymore either, even though they sing happy songs.