A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Chapters 37 - 42
Francie and Neeley struggle with their father's death and wonder if he deserved to die. Francie tells Neeley that she doesn't believe in God anymore and the family skips over Christmas and Neeley's thirteenth birthday. Neeley gets his own room and Katie and Francie share a room. She tells them, "From now on I am your mother and your father." Chapter 37, pg. 293.
Katie cashes in the children's insurance policies for money to get them through another few months. She is very pregnant and cannot work, so the family's financial situation is grave. She does not want to take Francie out of school to work because she wants her to be the first Nolan to graduate. McGarrity, the salon owner who allowed Johnny to drink himself to death, wants to help Katie. He misses Johnny as well, and has money with little happiness. His wife Mae, is not the homely type, and he is envious of Johnny's family. He offers both the children jobs after school with a generous salary. Now, the family will have enough money to feed and clothe themselves and Francie will get to stay in school.
Sissy seems different to Francie. She realizes that Sissy has changed because she now has a baby and is satisfied. Sissy sews confirmation clothes for Neeley and Francie. They appear in their first photograph and Francie is worried that she is not as attractive as Neeley. Her compositions also have also become more morose since her father died and her teacher, Miss Garnder, reprimands Francie for the themes of poverty, drunkenness, and death. Francie feels resentful because she looks down upon her. Miss Garnder thinks that she is talking to Francie for her own good and that some day she will thank her for her advice. "Francie wished adults would stop telling her that. Already the load of thanks in the future was weighing her down. She figured she'd have to spend the best years of her womanhood hunting up people to tell them that they were right and to thank them." Chapter 39, pg. 318. Francie speaks with her mother and for once they become close. Katie asks Francie to stay close to her in this important time before the birth of the baby. "'Maybe,' thought Francie, 'she doesn't love me as much as she loves Neeley. But she needs me more than she needs him and I guess being needed is almost as good as being loved. Maybe better." Chapter 39, pg. 326.
Katie gives birth to baby Laurie, named after a song Johnny used to sing under harsh, painful circumstances. Francie is by her side the entire time, helping her through the pain. Evy and Sissy assist in the birth because she does not have enough money for a midwife. Laurie is a good baby who sleeps most of the time. Katie works such bizarre hours to take care of the baby, that Francie never sees her. She and Neeley continue to work at McGarrity's. She overhears all the talk about possible prohibition, women's suffrage, automobiles, name changes, and more. "And Francie, pausing in her sweeping to listen, tried to put everything together and tried to understand a world spinning in confusion. And it seemed to her that the whole world changed in between the time that Laurie was born and graduation day." Chapter 41, pg. 342. Katie goes to Neeley's graduation, while Sissy goes to Francie's, and Evy stays with Laurie. Francie surprisingly receives two dozen red roses on her desk, like every other girl, from her father. He had told Sissy two years earlier to do so. They all celebrated in an ice cream store and felt like millionaires after letting the waiter keep the change. Albie Seedmore asks Francie out on her first date to see a movie.