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MonkeyNotes-A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
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Chapter 38

Summary The thoughtful Francie offers to drop out of school in order to help support the family, but Katie insists on her continuing even though things are difficult. Now that she is cumbersome with child, Katie cannot continue cleaning for others, and it becomes even harder to make ends meet. Evy and Sissy have their own problems and cannot offer much assistance. They suggest to Katie that she should ask for some help from a charitable organization, but Katie is adamant about not taking charity.

McGarrity, one of Johnny's friends, comes to the rescue. He is the owner of the saloon that Johnny used to frequent. The two of them would sit and talk about Johnny's wife and children. McGarrity always admired what he heard about them, for his own marriage was miserable, and Johnny's family seemed ideal. Realizing that Katie is in a difficult financial position, McGarrity offers a job to the children after school hours. The extra money that Francie and Neeley make and give to Katie is a tremendous help. It is also beneficial that McGarrity's wife often feeds the children a healthy meal, saving Katie some more money. As a result of McGarrity's kindness, things in the Nolan family improve.


Notes

Although things are extremely difficult since she can no longer work because of her pregnancy, the proud Katie is determined that she will not take charity and that the children will not drop out of school. Although she is uneducated herself, Katie believes that the only way to escape poverty is through gaining a good education; therefore, she is insistent that Francie and Neeley continue in school, even though the kind and thoughtful Francie volunteers to quit and get a job to support the family.

McGarrity's timely help is a godsend to the family. By giving Francie and Neeley a job after school hours, the struggling Nolans at least have an income. McGarrity also gains something from his kindness. He has always longed to have a happy family himself, and he now adopts the Nolans as his substitute happy family.

Katie again shows her wisdom and foresight within the chapter. She will not permit McGarrity to come and visit regularly, as he would like. Since she has no romantic interest in this married man, she has enough sense to realize that in the future his regular presence in the Nolan household would simply cause problems that Katie wants to avoid. She does, however, truly appreciate his giving the children their jobs and helping them.

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MonkeyNotes-A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
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