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 31–32 | Summary



Chapter 31

Aunt Evy isn't allowed to work her husband's milk route after his horse kicks him in the head—even though he can't work while he's laid up in the hospital. She has to beg and plead with his boss before he finally gives in, when it should have been a matter of course. At least the horse, Drummer, has finally found someone kind to him. He takes to Evy, and after her, he won't work for anyone else until the boss finds a man as gentle as she.

Chapter 32

The following summer, Katie finds Francie's diary and insists that Francie strike out each instance of "drunk" and replace it with "sick," which makes the entries almost ridiculous. But while Katie is ashamed of her husband's alcoholism, she isn't ashamed to speak to her daughter as an adult.


Francie notices that women gang up on each other, but men defend other men. This baffles Francie, who has already shown a bit of a feminist streak. Things are doubly difficult when men also treat women poorly. For example, when Evy is first locked out of her husband's milk delivery route, she has to fight hard for what should not even be discussed—namely, the chance to work to earn money for her family. That she wins over the abused Drummer, however, shows the reader that there is a place for maternal kindness in a man's world.

Smith provides the reader with a curious bookend to the Evy and Drummer story. When Willie has recuperated enough to return to work, his boss knows that the old arrangement—Drummer and Willie together—won't work. Just when it looks like Drummer will have to be sold, the owner hits upon an idea: "Among the drivers there was an effeminate young man who talked with a lisp," continuing, "Drummer seemed satisfied and consented to go out with the ladylike driver in the seat." What should the reader make of this? What does Smith intend? Perhaps she offers a wink to underappreciated women everywhere, whom the male dominated society places in roles chosen for, not by, them. If so, the "ladylike driver" could be a first step in blurring the lines between what men and women are, and are capable of doing.

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