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 16, 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 16, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Tree-Grows-in-Brooklyn/.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn | Book 4, Chapters 45–46 | Summary



Chapter 45

It is Christmastime again, a year after Johnny's death. Much has changed. This year, there is enough money not just for food, but also for gifts and a real tree they can put on the fire escape to grow when the holiday is over. Francie reunites with her faith, and realizes that the pain she feels whenever she thinks of her father is slowly being replaced by a tender sentiment.

Chapter 46

As midnight approaches on New Year's Eve, Francie declares to Neeley that 1917 will be momentous, and not just because she'll be 16 "for real," but also because the building will soon have electricity.

Katie pours a small jigger of brandy for each of them to celebrate. She needn't worry that her children will succumb to alcohol, like their father. It makes Neeley sick, and Francie isn't much interested in drink. She gets drunk on life.


The New Year, however artificial, always brings hope of a new beginning. It's no different for Francie. In this way, like Johnny, everyone is a dreamer. That's true of both Francie and Neeley, but they are stronger than their father; they don't need alcohol.

Francie's statement about 1917 is prescient, but perhaps not entirely for the reasons she gives. The United States will soon enter The Great War, and though the novel ends before Francie can be directly affected by it, she will learn one life lesson that likely would not have happened the way it did without it.

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