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When Francie is only three months old, Katie learns that she is pregnant again. The midwife advises her to abort the baby for her own health and safety, but Katie refuses. Neeley, born when Francie is a year old, is strong and healthy; Katie immediately realizes that she loves her son more than her daughter.
Johnny grows more irresponsible, drinking heavily. With her inner resources, as strong as steel, Katie takes charge. She struggles to give the children the best she can amidst the poverty. Because life is so difficult, she seems to lose all her tenderness; all her effort must be spent on making sure that Francie and Neeley have a better future.
In this chapter, Katie notices the tree growing in the yard. She remarks that it is strong even though it grows in sour soil. She is determined that her children will have the same strength in spite of the poverty that surrounds them.
When Katie gets pregnant again when Francie is only three months old, the midwife advises her to have an abortion; but Katie refuses. When Neeley arrives as a healthy baby, he immediately steals his mother's heart; Katie admits she loves her son better than her daughter, even though she tries to hide the fact from Francie; however, at a very early age, the perceptive Francie realizes that her mother is partial to Neeley.
After Neeley's birth, Johnny grows more irresponsible and drinks more. Unable to depend upon her husband, Katie is forced into becoming a capable and strong woman, fully responsible for raising the children. She is so busy struggling to survive that she has no time to enjoy life or be tender with her family. When she notices the tree in her yard, she hopes that her children will be like it is - strong in spite of the environment where it lives.
Katie is determined to make a better life for Francie and Neeley. She is ready to move heaven and earth for the betterment of her children. She is the force that keeps the family together and pulls them through.