Study Guide

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Chapter 53

By Betty Smith

Chapter 53

  • When Francie gets home, she writes Lee a long love letter in which she repeats the promises she made to him earlier that night, and mails it right away.
  • She waits and waits for his reply.
  • Finally, a letter arrives on Friday; she rips into it.
  • It is addressed to “Miss Nolan” which is odd. It must be from someone else, because Lee would have called her Francie. She turns it over and notices that it is from Mrs. Elizabeth Rhynor. His mother? No, after reading it twice, it becomes clear that his new wife wrote the letter. They got married the day he went home. Mrs. Rhynor read the letter that she sent to him, and she’s very sorry that he pretended to be in love with her. Lee is just dreadfully sorry about it too.
  • Francie trembles, moans, and calls for her mother. Her heart is fully and completely broken. Mama feels helpless; she can’t protect her child from the pains of heartache.
  • Mama doesn’t know what to say. She won’t lie to Francie and tell her that in time she will forget him, because she won’t. She will always remember her first love.
  • Francie asks her mother if she should have slept with him like he wanted her to. Mama says that there are two answers to that. As a mother, the answer is that it would have been terrible to sleep with a stranger. It might have destroyed her whole life. As a woman, however, she says it would have been beautiful since you only fall in love for the first time once.
  • Francie regrets not sleeping with him.
  • Katie tells her that she received a letter from someone, too. Mr. McShane. Would she like to have him as a new father? Francie thinks her mother may be getting a tad carried away here. He just wrote a letter; it is not a marriage proposal. Katie, however, is pretty confident that they will get married. It’s a gut feeling.
  • Francie doesn’t want to talk about it anymore and asks if she can just be alone.
  • After crying for a good long while, she prepares some food and is surprised by how good it tastes, but then she sees the letter again and starts to cry.
  • She takes the letter to the sink, burns it, and then she finishes breakfast.
  • She considers writing to Ben, but decides that she doesn’t want to need anyone. She wants someone to want her.