Settling — A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Chapters 38-45

What is your price?  How often do you settle for something far beneath what you are worthy of because it’s the best thing you’ve been offered so far?  Do you even know that you’re giving up something greater?

Francie knows.  When she agrees to stay on at her job and become the city reader, she knows that she’s giving up her education and her future dreams.  She knows she could be doing something greater with her life but she also knows that her family needs the money now and that she has the means to take away their present problems by sacrificing her future happiness.

The decision sickens her to the core and tears at her young heart.  She is doing what she thought she would love and she is finding out that though she has life better than her mother had it and though she is more successful this year than she was the year before, it is not enough.

The interesting thing is, she doesn’t even know the extent to which she is being cheated, underpaid and overworked.  She just knows something’s wrong.

When I am selling out, giving up my chances for a grand life because the illusion of something better than my current situation sits tangibly within my grasp, I know something’s wrong.  Do I always know how desperately wrong?  Do I always care that it’s wrong or do I just go for the something better that’s at arm’s length instead of leaping into the darkness for the unimaginable greatness that is beyond my ability to hope for?

I fear that I often accept the small victories in life, too afraid or too ignorant to really become the worthy protagonist of my life’s story.

Lauren writes
from a New Yorker’s perspective about the ways our world has changed and how it remains the same.
Allysha says “[…]Often times it’s heartbreaking as Francie has to negotiate the world she has created in her mind with the reality she lives in.[…]”Â  In her usual thoughtful way, Allysha discusses this week’s section about growing up.  She discusses beauty and truth and one of my favorite sections of the book.


Pease let me know if you’ve blogged about the book and I’ll add a link here. And remember, you don’t have to stick to the schedule. If you have something great to say about the first page, let us know.

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5 Responses to Settling — A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Chapters 38-45

  1. Becca says:

    Don’t you wish you had the big picture at times like that? The aerial view, if you will, of all those little untraveled roads. This part of the book has always touched a chord with me. I’m always torn. I want Francie to go to high school and do what will make her happy, but I have to admire her willingness to suck it up and do what she has to do.

  2. allysha says:

    One of the things that makes this book, and particularly this incident, so rich is that while my heart breaks for Francie (that happens to me a lot while reading this book) is that there are a lot of layers to what is going on. I can see why Katie makes the decision she does. If I take a step back from feeling for Francie, I feel for Katie, too.

    It’s painful, oh it’s painful sometimes, giving up a dream and a future for the sake of something else. But there is a nobility in being willing to sacrifice for others and living what might be regarded as a smaller life (think George Bailey). Look at all the little things that make up Francie’s life. I think we all might be better protagonists of our own stories than currently meets the eye!

  3. jeana says:

    I haven’t read this part of the book yet, although I’m quickly catching up to you. But it occurs to me that by giving up something greater, Francie is perhaps doing what is the greatest.

  4. Nettie says:

    I really disliked the fact that Katie favored her son so much. And I thought she was doing it again here. Maybe she was, but maybe she really did have the wisdom to make the right decision. I’m still not sure which.

    I love the fact that, although Francie is so disappointed at this set back, she doesn’t give up on her dreams, just alters the path to reaching them. We need to be creative and think outside of the box sometimes to fulfill our dreams.

  5. I’m still not convinced of Katie’s intentions. I really feel that she strongly favors Neely. Although I can see her logic, it is a moment of total heartbreak for Francie and I know that in her shoes I’d have a hard time understanding.

    Jeana and Allysha. I do understand the idea of sacrifice. It is very possible that she is choosing the best road in her life. Sometimes it’s so hard to decide between two good things.

    This rang true to me because I’ve been a lot of time into the pursuit of writing lately and wondering if I’m not giving up on my most important dream of being the wife and mother that my children need. Both are important goals and I don’t think they’re mutally exclusive, but it’s hard to balance. There are so many dreams and such a short lifetime to achieve them.

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