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MonkeyNotes-A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
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Chapter 35

Summary Although Johnny is not drinking, he is not working. As a result, Katie has to perform two jobs in order to make ends meet. She always feels tired and sick.

At times there seems to be some normalcy in the Nolan household. One day Francie and Neeley sit and talk about old times. Then as the children eat their dinner, Katie plays the piano. The happy setting is interrupted when Johnny enters the house looking wild. At first Katie is afraid that he is drunk, but he is not. He is angry because the Waiters Union has thrown him out, claiming he is a bum and a drunk. Upset by the news, Francie and Neeley withdraw quietly, and Katie gently leads her husband into their room.


Notes

The chapter starts off in a light, happy mood, with jokes, laughter, and sweet reminiscences. Unfortunately, it ends on a bitter note with Johnny announcing he has been kicked out of the union. It is just one more frustration for the struggling family.

Although Katie, Francie, and Neeley know they are poverty stricken, they attempt to make the best of it. They joke with each other and find ways to entertain themselves. Although their meals are plain and simple, like a dinner of oatmeal and bananas, the children do not complain and try to believe it is delicious. Sometimes they ask their mother to play the piano during a meal, "so it's like a restaurant while we're eating."

Johnny's return home brings an end to the family's momentary happiness. Once again he has lost his job, and this time he has been kicked out of the union as well. Unable to face his failure, he sobs to Katie, his pillar of strength; as always, she tries to comfort him.

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