Study Guide

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Chapter 52

By Betty Smith

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Chapter 52

  • On a sunny spring day one of Francie’s colleagues, Anita, begs her for help. You see, she is engaged to this guy who is about to leave for war the next day and they want to spent some quality time together (wink-wink), but there is this other guy tagging along. Could Francie please keep this guy company? She looks at the guy, and while not drop dead gorgeous or anything, she does like his shy smile, so she agrees.
  • Lee Rhynor is the guy who is the third wheel. He tells Francie that he understands why his friends ran off because he has a fiancé back home too, and he can just go back to the hotel room. Francie says since she already told her mother that she will not be home for a while though, she might as well show him around town a bit.
  • They go out to dinner and have an outstanding time. They spend four hours talking over their meal, and both admit that they have been so lonely, but that now neither of themfeels lonely at all.
  • It is late; Francie says she must head for home.
  • Lee wants to walk her home, and since he has always wanted to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, they decide to go that way.
  • They have a wonderful walk, and when they get into Brooklyn, Francie shows him how to get back using the el train, and she waits for the trolley to take her to her neighborhood. When the trolley arrives, he grabs her and kisses her. Heavenly.
  • Francie dresses up for work the next day because she just knows he will show up to see her after work even though they have no plans. She tells Neeley to tell Mama that she won’t be home for dinner again, and he picks on her for having a boyfriend.
  • Her suspicions are correct, and he is waiting for her when she gets out of work. They eat and then go out dancing. Turns out he's a wonderful dancer too.
  • She decides then and there that she wants to marry him. (This is very similar to how Katie felt dancing with Johnny many years ago.)
  • Lee tells her that he has to leave in the morning to go see his mother for a few days before he goes to war, and then he tells Francie that he loves her.
  • She asks him about the comment he made about an engagement when they first met. He blows it off by saying everyone is engaged in a small town because it is the only thing to do; he has no plans to marry her.
  • Lee tells Francie that he is scared that he will die a virgin in war and tries to get her to sleep with him. She says that she really wants to, but she is a virgin, sixteen years old, and not allowed to spend the night with him. He tries to get her to make up a story to tell her mother, but she says she’s not going to lie. He whispers that he is sorry he asked, and that he had no way of knowing. No way of knowing? Francie is confused about what this means and so is Shmoop.
  • He asks if they can get married if he returns home from war.
  • Francie says that when he returns they will get married.
  • He wants her to write every day. She promises.
  • He asks her to promise to not go out with anyone else till he returns home. She promises this, too.

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