Everything was changing. Francie was in a panic. Her world was slipping away from her and what would take its place? Still, what was different anyhow? She read a page from the Bible and Shakespeare every night the same as always. She practiced the piano every day for an hour. She put pennies in the tin-can bank. The junk shop was still there; the stores were all the same. Nothing was changing. She was the one who was changing.
She told papa about it. He made her stick out her tongue and he felt her wrist. He shook his head sadly and said,
"You have a bad case, a very bad case."
She gets one last magical Christmas but in these chapters, Francie is growing up. As all of us do, she's lost the magic that makes childhood what it is. She's dissatified with the theatre because in her life things don't wrap up so neatly. She sees the cruelty of the neighborhood women to Johanna and her baby. Katie doesn't know everything and Johnny is increasingly drunk. And her encounter with the man in the hallway.
But growing up is just that, learning to navigate the disappointments, hurt, and even fear and terror.
Francie isn't the only one dealing with the realities of growing up. Johnny is too. His excursion to the ocean with his children and Little Tilly is a catastrophe on almost every level. "He couldn't figure it out - he couldn't figure it out. The songs of the sea had betrayed him." Maybe Johnny realizes what Francie is starting to see; that people laugh at those things she loves about him. But if part of growing up is overcoming then Johnny succeeds, though his success costs him his life. And it leaves Francie, Neeley and Katie something even bigger to conquer.