Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Summary When Francie turns thirteen, she realizes that she will soon be a woman. She still enjoys school and is pleased when her composition, which she called "Winter Time," is published in the school magazine. Rushing home to show the magazine to her parents, she is disappointed to learn that they are both at work.
Francie notices Joanna passing by with her baby in a pram. She is a seventeen-year-old girl who lives with her parents in the neighborhood. Francie knows that she has been completely ostracized by society because she is an unwed mother. Even as Francie watches, the neighborhood women gather outside and begin to taunt Joanna. When the young mother ignores their taunts, the women start pelting stones at her. One stone hits the baby's forehead, which starts bleeding. Terribly upset, Joanna begins to cry and rushes the baby inside the house. Francie feels terrible about the treatment that Joanna and her baby have received.
Suddenly Francie realizes that she herself is bleeding and is terror- stricken. When she tells her mother, Katie reassures her by saying that the bleeding is a sign of her growing up.
Francie, having entered the threshold of womanhood, has begun to question the deeper meanings of life and relationships. When she spies what happens to Joanna and her baby, she is deeply touched and troubled. For the times in which she lived, it is not surprising that Joanna is ostracized by the neighborhood women, for she is a seventeen-year-old unwed mother. Francie, however, cannot fully understand the meaning of this. She has simply seen Joanna tenderly holding, kissing, and caring for the baby; therefore, she is very angry at the treatment she receives when the women taunt her and then throw stones at her, injuring the baby. Their behavior is totally unacceptable by any standard, and Francie will never forget it. To show her support of Joanna, she puts the magazine, with her article in it, in the baby's pram, hoping Joanna will see it and read it. In contrast to her sympathy for Joanna, Francie develops a hatred for most women, other than those in the family. She promises herself that she will never become cruel and judgmental like the ones she has seen.
Ironically, just as Francie sees the baby bleeding after being hit with a stone, she realizes she is also bleeding, signaling the onset of her womanhood. When she tells her mother about it, Katie seizes the opportunity to tell her daughter about boys and why she should keep away from them. Always practical, Katie warns Francie, "What makes you get a baby often starts with a kiss."