A Tree Grows in Brooklyn | Study Guide

Betty Smith

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Course Hero. "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Study Guide." August 3, 2017. Accessed November 20, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Tree-Grows-in-Brooklyn/.


Course Hero, "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Study Guide," August 3, 2017, accessed November 20, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Tree-Grows-in-Brooklyn/.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn | Book 3, Chapters 25–26 | Summary



Chapter 25

Johnny's drinking continues to increase, but when he is sober, he tries to facilitate his children's education. For example, he brings them to see the mansions on Bushwick Avenue, to show them the rewards of a free country. But Francie is confused by the meaning of "free." In a free country, she counters, you shouldn't have to pay for carriage rides. That, Papa responds, is different; that's socialism.

Chapter 26

The Tree of Heaven continues to grow. Eventually, its branches envelope the fire escape, which creates a sort of tree house just for Francie. Life is hard, harder than it should be for children, but there are Christmas and other traditions to enjoy. Francie marks the year by its holidays. She starts with July Fourth, since it's the first holiday after the end of the school year. Thanksgiving means dressing up in costumes to beg shopkeepers for treats—and some of them comply, knowing that pennies are saved up throughout the year to buy their wares.

This year marks Francie's foray into writing, mainly because of a lie she tells at school. A girl brought in a pumpkin pie to celebrate the holiday. When the teacher asks for someone to take it, Francie volunteers, saying she intends to give it to a poor family. But she eats it all by herself. The next day, she makes up an elaborate story about the event, but the teacher isn't fooled. She gently explains to Francie that an imagination is a wonderful thing, but there is a difference between a story and a lie.


Francie knows her Mama would not want her to bring home a charity pie, but her hunger gets the better of her. In this incident, the reader gains a better understanding of how Francie's growing penchant for lying can be converted into storytelling. By writing stories, she can make the world how it should be, not how it is.

Johnny wants his children to dream big. As Francie grows up, Bushwick is becoming mansion row. The land was first settled by the Dutch in 1660. French, Scandinavian, and English farmers worked the land, in addition to the Dutch. Until the land was mapped for homes in the 1850s, it was rural. At that point, many German and Austrian immigrants made their homes in Bushwick. It was between 1880 and 1913 that Bushwick Avenue became mansion row. Architecturally beautiful homes in the Queen Anne, Romanesque Revival, Italianate, and Neo Greco styles dominated. This small scene is important because it reminds the reader that Johnny Nolan isn't the only person to dream big. Some have actually realized their dreams, and this gives people like Johnny Nolan hope.

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