A Tree Grows in Brooklyn | Study Guide

Betty Smith

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Course Hero. "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Study Guide." Course Hero. 3 Aug. 2017. Web. 17 Dec. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Tree-Grows-in-Brooklyn/>.

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Course Hero. "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Study Guide." August 3, 2017. Accessed December 17, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Tree-Grows-in-Brooklyn/.


Course Hero, "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Study Guide," August 3, 2017, accessed December 17, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Tree-Grows-in-Brooklyn/.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn | Book 4, Chapters 53–54 | Summary



Chapter 53

Francie dutifully writes to Lee—that very night, in fact—repeating her love and promises. Several days later, a letter arrives, only it's not from Lee, but his wife. He'd gotten married just before shipping out. Mrs. Elizabeth Rhynor is very sorry about what Lee has done, pretending to be in love with Francie.

Chapter 54

There is good news on the horizon, however. Sergeant McShane, now retired from the force and embarked on a successful business and political career, hasn't forgotten Katie Nolan. He gives the family a respectable mourning period before paying the family a call. He asks Katie to marry him. If she says yes, everything will change overnight, including Francie's life. He wants the family to move into his house. He wants to adopt Laurie and send Francie and Neeley to college. They will want for nothing, and Katie knows this. But she is clear about her motivation: "I will marry you because you are a good man and I'd like to have you for my husband."

Francie and Neeley reminisce about their childhoods. They know Laurie will have it easy, and they are happy for her. But they also know she won't have their special experiences. "Poor Laurie," Francie says.


Book 4 ends with both heartbreak and hope. This is the climax of the novel, where Francie finds comfort in her mother, after having been moving apart from her for some time. It is also a time of well-deserved reward for Katie, who has suffered so much. In Sergeant McShane, she finds a good and kind man, someone whose temperament is a match for hers. He will not take Johnny's place, but will create one for himself and his new family.

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