A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Chapters 26 - 30
During Thanksgiving, Francie discovers her future as a writer. Her teacher in school is giving away a pie for charity and Francie raises her hand to say that she knows a poor family who wants it. Francie secretly knows how much Katie hates charity, but takes the cake nonetheless. On the way home, she eats it. The next day, she embellishes the story to the teacher about what happened to the pie. She admits in tears that she is lying; yet her teacher tells her that it is just imagination. She gives her advice: "In the future, when something comes up, you tell exactly how it happened but write down for yourself the way you think it should have happened. Tell the truth and write the story. Then you won't get mixed up. It was the best advice Francie every got." Chapter 26, pg. 196.
At Christmas, there is a store that gives away the unsold Christmas trees to anyone who can catch one when thrown in the air by the owner. Francie and Neeley step out to catch a massive tree. Everyone laughs at them because of their small sizes and young ages. When the tree is thrown, they get hit and scraped. The owner bitterly lets them keep it because of their effort. They carry it home, happily surprising a sober Johnny and worrying a realistic Katie. She wants her children to be better than poor and be better than their surroundings. She realizes that education is the key, not necessarily money. "That's what Mary Rommely, her mother had been telling her all those years. Only her mother did not have the one clear word: education!" Chapter 27, pg. 204. She thinks that Francie will grow away from her. She reiterates that she does love Neeley more because he will not leave her. He also looks just like Johnny, who she knows will not be around much longer. The family has a nice Christmas together and exchange homemade presents.
Aunt Evy gives Francie tickets to a Protestant Christmas show, where she sees a little girl named Mary onstage who wants to give away a pretty doll to a poor girl named Mary in the audience. Francie loses her pride and takes the doll, even though her name is not Mary. She plans to make truth of her lie by being confirmed and taking the name, Mary, as a middle name. Katie tells her that she is already christened 'Mary Frances Nolan.'
The neighborhood changes and Francie becomes interested in different things. Henny Gaddis dies and Maudie Donovan blossoms into a pubescent woman. Nothing is really changing except Francie. "Growing up spoiled a lot of things" Chapter 28, pg. 214. Growing up especially spoils the theater because Francie falls in love with lead actors and is disappointed in the endings of plays. She rewrites her own endings and decides to become a playwright instead of an actress.
Johnny decides to take the kids on a fishing trip to Canarsie with Little Tilly, the "forgotten" sister of Gussie, a four-year-old boy who still breastfeeds. Everything goes wrong and the kids are severely sunburned, malnourished, and dripping wet from the overturned boat. On the trip home, all three vomit on Johnny and his only suit is ruined. Katie is furious and tells him that he is unfit to raise children.
Francie is thirteen years old when she publishes her first story, "Winter Time," in her school's magazine. She has one copy and plans to show it to everyone in her family until she sees Joanna walking through the streets with her baby. Joanna is unmarried and therefore everyone shuns her by throwing stones at her, hitting her baby. Francie cannot understand the taunting from the women. She recalls her mother telling her to remember Joanna and to let her story be a lesson to her. She puts her one magazine in the baby carriage for Joanna and always remembers what she saw. Joanna is not really a bad girl; she just wasn't smart enough to get her man to the altar. She thinks about women and decides she will never have a woman as a friend, aside from her aunts.
"Most women had the one thing in common: they had great pain when they gave birth to their children. This should make a bond that held them all together; it should make them love and protect each other against the man-world. But it was not so. It seemed like their great birth pains shrank their hearts and their souls. They stuck together for only one thing: to trample on some other woman." Chapter 29, pg. 234