A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Book 4, Chapters 43 - 45
Francie works in a factory with other girls her age wrapping wires around flowers. They tease her until she laughs at another boy and fits in.
"'This could be a whole life,' she thought. 'You work eight hours a day covering wires to earn money to buy food and to pay for a place to sleep that you can keep living to come back to cover more wires. Some people are born and kept living just to come to this...May be she'd never have more education than she had at that moment. Maybe all her life she'd have to cover wires." Chapter 43, pg. 358
Neeley works in Manhattan as an errand boy for a broker friend of Sissy's, John. They present Katie their first week's pay of ten dollars total in a glorious and proud celebration. Francie gets a fifty-cent a week allowance, while Neeley gets to keep his tips just like his father. He looks more and more like Johnny each day.
Francie applies to be a clerk in the Model Office Clipping Bureau office in New York because she was laid off with everyone else from the factory for seasonal work. She lies about her age by saying that she is sixteen (when she is only fourteen), goes on the interview in her new mature clothes and hair pinned up, and wins the job. She becomes the fastest newspaper reader, and the most underpaid, despite her decent salary. She is divided between the class system; she is both an educated reader and a common worker. She is disappointed in New York and desires to go to high school, even though she is offered Miss Armstrong's coveted position of city paper reader with a raise of twenty dollars a week. Katie can only afford to send one child back to school and she chooses Neeley because he doesn't want to go. She knows Francie will find a way to return to her education, even though it hurts her now. Both Francie and Neeley are furious because Francie wants to go to school and Neeley wants to continue working. Francie feels so old because she has to be sixteen, although she is only fourteen and thinks she'll be too old to go back to high school any time later than now. Katie and Francie fight and try to make up as they analyze themselves. "'And that's where the whole trouble is,' thought Francie. 'We're too much alike to understand each other because we don't even understand our own selves. Papa and I were too different persons and we understood each other. Mama understands Neeley because he's different from her." Chapter 44, pg. 381. Katie sets up a bank account for Francie and puts five dollars a week in it for her future college education.
The Nolans open their new tin can bank that Neeley and Francie established when they began working, to go Christmas shopping and to buy Katie a new non-mourning hat. They reminisce about past holidays and wonder if they are forgetting Johnny. They go to church, think about Catholicism, and pray for Johnny.