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MonkeyNotes-A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
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Chapter 4

Summary

In this chapter, Francie goes to visit Flossie Gladdis in order to see what she is wearing to the dance later in the evening. Flossie, who supports her mother and sickly brother by working in a kid glove factory, goes to a masquerade ball in a different costume every Saturday night. While Francie is looking at all the brilliant costumes in Flossie's closet, she has a horrible feeling that a skeleton is hiding behind the costumes, waiting for Henry. Henry is Flossie's brother who suffers from consumption; everyone believes that he will die soon. Still the strange and horrible image of the skeleton waiting to take him away is a terrifying one for Francie.


Notes

In an earlier chapter, Francie introduced Flossie as a young girl who loved to chase men. Now it is learned that she goes in costume every Saturday night to a masquerade ball, where she usually wins some insignificant prize, such as a silk umbrella. It is her only extravagance in life, for most of the money she earns by working in a glove factory goes to support her mother and her sickly brother, who suffers from consumption. Flossie is the sole means of financial, emotional, and moral support for her family. Therefore, the masquerade is an escape for Flossie from her otherwise dreary existence. Her flamboyant costumes reveal the true color of her personality, which is usually camouflaged for the benefit of her family.

Although Flossie has told her that Henry, her brother, is dying, Francie does not entirely believe her, for Henry does not seem that sick. Francie is obviously bothered by the suggestion of Henry's impending death, for when she looks at Flossie's brilliant costumes, she imagines that there is a skeleton hiding behind them, waiting to take Henry away. Again, Francie feels frightened by the thoughts of death, just as when she saw the old man and imagined him ready to die.

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MonkeyNotes-A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
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