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MonkeyNotes-A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
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Chapter 5

Summary

Francie's mother returns from the movie with Sissy, Francie's favorite aunt. Sissy is a real character; she has been married three times and has had ten children, none of which survived. Like Flossie, Sissy spends a lot of her time chasing men. Francie hopes that Sissy will stay for supper, for when she is around, the atmosphere in the house seems more glamorous and happy. Francie particularly likes the fact that Sissy treats children as important individuals.

Unable to stay for dinner, Sissy soon departs. After she leaves, Francie tells her mother about the old man and about her fear of her own death. Her mother scoffs at her daughter's wild ideas and tells her that she must just accept that everyone has to get old and die. Francie and her mother then sit down to plan their meals for the week. Since the family is poor, Katie Nolan must be creative with her menus. Francie admires her mother for being able to make wonderful and appetizing dishes out of stale bread. When the dishes are not so good, Francie buys a pickle and sucks on it to take the taste away. Francie, however, always enjoys the evening meal on Saturday, for Katie usually serves some meat with the meal.


Notes

Aunt Sissy is introduced for the first time in this chapter. She is a vivacious and lovable character. The children like her company because she treats them as worthwhile people, listening to their conversations and really talking with them. Sissy is also a sharp contrast to the more practical Katie, Francie's mother. When Francie tells her mother her fears about aging and death, her mother simply says it is pointless to worry about it, for it happens to everyone.

Katie's practicality is also seen in her adept management of the household on a tight budget and her creative approach to meals. With little money to spend on food, she manages to convert a loaf of stale bread into a mouth-watering dish. When one of her recipes does not taste very good, the children do not complain; instead, they suck on pickles to take the taste away. Both Francie and Neeley are very resilient, having learned to accept their poverty as a fact of life.

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MonkeyNotes-A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
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