Betty Smith's Tomorrow Will Be Better. Is the Husband Gay?

This is by the same author who wrote “A Tree Grows In Brookyn.”

The reviews on the internet say a story about a Brooklyn girl who marries a gay man. But the book goes out of its way to say the guy isn’t gay he just hates sex.

Anyone know why the difference?

Why the difference? Because I doubt the public would have wanted to read about an actual gay character in 1943. Homosexuality was considered an appalling perversion in the U.S. at the time, and a lot of people would have been outraged at the idea of a person being gay in a mainstream novel.

This one needs to stay on the front page because I think there is an actual term for this literary device, but I can only describe it, and probably not well.

If you want to discuss a racy topic but are proscribed by society from doing so, one great way to get the message across is to keep the topic but to replace the details with something more acceptable.

Okay, I’m not getting anywhere without an example.

This sort of trick crops up quite often in television sit-coms. How many different sit-coms have the “supporting character descends into gambling but with the help of friends miraculously recovers in twenty-two minutes” episode? This of course is the the “descent into alcoholism” plot of prior decades, re-badged for our PC age. Apparently, we can’t make fun of alcoholism and drunks anymore, so now it’s gambling. Both plot lines often include devices associated with serious drug addiction (like pawning off the living room set), which leads me to believe that they are both probably derivative metaphors of some laudanum-quaffing character of an earlier age.

There are great, specific examples out there, but I’m damned if I can think of a single one. I hope I’ve helped more than I’ve confused.

Or how about the Brady Bunch? While very unrealistic overall, it seemed to me to depict remarriage after divorce, although the storyline, IIRC, relied on death of the spouses?

Hey, I just looked up at the title of this thread. “Is the Husband Gay” also fits my example very well :slight_smile:

actually ive heard finding a unabridged version of a tree grows in brooklyn is hard too becuase of the topics it contained
and is actually banned in a few places

In a Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the main character, 10 year old Francine, has an alcoholic father and her mother’s sister is either very promiscuous (she even tries to seduce the priest in confessional) or maybe a prostitute. Of course, that’s only because she all her children are born dead, and she’s taking her maternal instinct out on all the men.

In Tomorrow Will Be Better, the husband says he doesn’t want to sleep with men, he just doesn’t want to sleep with anyone. His wife Margy knows the marriage won’t work out and she sets her eyes on her boss, a 38 year old man who, despite having gotten through law school and owning his own business, spent his life living with his widowed mother. Margy obviously picks the same wrong type of man in relationships.


As a confirmed Betty Smith-phile (I read “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn” every year, and have since I was 9 or 10), this is the only book of hers I haven’t read – mostly because I can’t find it anywhere. Does anyone know where I can find a copy?

Try for A Tree Grows in Brookly, and Joy in The Morning. Try for Maggie Now and Tomorrow…

I don’t recall Aunt Sissy in “A Tree…” ever seducing a priest.

Most of Betty Smith’s writing is implied…For example Aunt Sissy works in a factory that makes products bought in whispers.

And if you are young you would skip over A LOT.

In fact the 3rd pregnancy is very hard to see when or how it happened. It is just there suddenly.

Which is why I asked as she could have easily left out the sentence. “It’s not that I want to go around sleeping with fellers I just don’t want to sleep with anyone.” And that would have left it up in there air.