"Maybe that decision was her great mistake. She should have waited until some man came along who felt that way about her. Then her children would not have gone hungry; she would not have had to scrub floors for their living and her memory of him would have remained a tender shining thing. But she wanted Johnny Nolan and no one else and she set out to get him." Chapter 7, pg. 56 Topic Tracking: Love 2 In a tearful goodbye for the three, Johnny and Katie tell Hildy to go her way and that they will go their way together. Katie (age seventeen) loses her best friend and Johnny breaks up with his girlfriend. The two are married on New Year's Day of 1901 after knowing each other for only four months. Topic Tracking: Growing Up 3 Katie's father, Thomas Rommely, never forgives her for marrying. He fled Austria to avoid the army, and refused to speak English once he moved to America. He expects his daughters to work for him. Consequently, they hate him. Katie's mother, Mary Rommely, is a strong, religious woman with a melodious voice and a mouthful of stories to tell. Despite this passion for communication, she cannot read or write. She is the strength in Katie's family. Katie's oldest sister, Sissy, is very flirtatious, sensual, and fun loving. She constantly seeks love in men, is on her third marriage, desperately wants children, but has lost ten babies to stillbirth. Eliza is the second daughter and the only one who lacks the fire and beauty of the other girls. She enters a convent while Francie is young and does not re-enter the novel. Evy is the third girl who also marries young. She wants children and loves music. All four women have a profound affect on Francie and she looks to each of them for guidance. "Those were the Rommely women: Many, the mother, Evy, Sissy, and Katie, her daughters, and Francie, who would grow up to be a Rommely woman even though her name was Nolan. They were all slender, frail creatures with wondering eyes and soft fluttery voices...But they were made out of thin invisible steel." Chapter 7, pg. 68 28
Chapter 8 The Nolan family comes from Ireland. Ruthie Nolan took care of her four sons after her husband died. All of them leave school early to make money; all are handsome and musical; all seem to duck out of marriage; all are singing waiters. The Nolan name is dying out because of the reckless behavior of the men. Everyone leaves Ruthie; her three other sons, Andy, Georgie, and Frankie, die before the age of 35, and Johnny gets married to Katie. Francie is the product of the two families: Rommely and Nolan. She has the passion and weaknesses of her father's side and the strength and love of life of her mother's side. "She was made up of all of these good and these bad things...She was the books she read in the library...Part of her life was made from the tree growing rankly in the yard. She was the bitter quarrels she had with her brother whom she loved dearly. She was Katie's secret, despairing weeping. She was the shame of her father staggering home drunk...She was all of these things and of something more...It was something that had been born into her and her only" Chapter 8, pg. 71.