Study Guide

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Chapter 55

By Betty Smith

Chapter 55

  • It is Francie's last day at her job, but none of her co-workers know that. She doesn’t want to do the whole good-bye thing, and is afraid she will break down and cry, which she doesn’t want to do.
  • She joins some of the girls as they sing and play the piano in the break room and takes one long last look out the window at the view she will never see again. She considers how the last time you do something feels like a little death, in a way. She thinks about what Granma Mary Rommely used to say. It was something like if we could live every moment like we are seeing things for the first or last time, life would be filled with glory.
  • Mary’s last illness lasted for several months, and she eventually died from it.
  • During all the upheaval of mourning, Uncle Willy Flittman leaves the family.
  • Rumor has it that he spends his time playing his instruments all over Brooklyn as a one-man band.
  • Francie finishes summer school and passes all four of the classes she took. Ben helps her study for the Regents examination to get into college, and she passes this time. He helps her decide on a college to attend; Francie is going off to Ann Arbor, Michigan to attend the University of Michigan.
  • Ben gives her his high school ring. It is engraved with his and her initials. It is supposed to serve as an “understanding” ring: He wants to marry her in five years. In five years, he will be ready to marry her, and she will be old enough to be able to make such a decision.
  • Even though she knows that Ben is a great guy, she still thinks of Lee.
  • As she leaves, she sees a tall man in the shadows of a doorway. She thinks she is seeing the ghost of Lee, but it is Ben who has come to take her out to dinner on her last day of work. He had a feeling that she would be feeling down.