A Tree Grown in Brooklyn
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, what a splendid name for this book. Most people that have not read this book might only think that this book is about a tree growing in Brooklyn. Not knowing that this book is really about Francie Nolan. Francie is the tree that is growing in Brooklyn. She is growing up so quickly, not because she wants to, but because she has too. Francie was basically forced to grow up in her mid-teens. She had to help support her family. The world that Francie lived in also contributed to her growth into womanhood.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn takes place during the early 1900’s, in the slums of Williamsburgs , Brooklyn. The slums are where the Nolan family lives their whole lives, although Francie later moves out and travels into New York City for her well paying job.
The Nolan family consists of four strong hearted people. The Nolan’s are very unique for a family who lives in the slums of Brooklyn; they are a pretty decent family of four. Kate is the beautiful young mother of Francie and Neeley and the wife of Johnny. Kate holds a janitress job to keep her family together and from starving, she is basically the sole provider for the family. Johnny, Kate’s drunk husband, is considered to be a good man, but he is nothing but a drunk who, has an off and on again job as a free lance singer/waiter. Their daughter, Francie, who is the main character of the book, is a very intelligent young woman. Francie always wants to do the best in everything that she tries. Last but not least is the youngest Nolan, Neeley. He is Francie’s younger brother. He is also loved the most by his mamma. Neeley is Katies Favorite and this is quite obvious. The Nolan’s are unique. They have hope that life will get better.
The Nolan family have an old tin-can bank that they keep in a closet in their house. Katie was told to have this bank to accumulate money to buy land so she could pass it on to her children. They put as much in as they can afford every day, and it slowly accumulates little by little. This book shows that, a penny saved, is a penny earned. And that every little bit counts. It makes you realize that money is not everything. This family did not have much money, but they did have much hope.
Neeley and Francie are a brother and sister that get along pretty well. Together they enjoy collectiong garbage and trading it in for money when threy are young. They would use this money to buy things for them selves and whatever money was left would be put into the tin can bank. They also help their Mamma by doing the grocery shopping together. Everytime that Francie is told to go shopping for her Mamma she always has to do some barganing. Francie got her bargening skills from her mamma.She is strong willed and determined. Because she possesses the power of confidence, Francie usually gets what she wants. I think Francie gained confidence from her mother and her free spirit from her father. Kate is a very confident woman, and knows how to get her way. Her father, on the other hand is just full of life (most of the time). He is an optimistic, rather than a pessimist. In one part of the book, Francie is sent to the Butcher by her mother. She was told by her mother to “Take eight cents from the cracked cup and buy a quarter loaf of Jew rye bread and see if it is fresh. Then take a nickel, go to Sauerwein’s and ask for the end-of-the-tounge for a nickel. But you have to have a pull with him to get it” (page 10). When Francie got to the butcher, she showed an example of her mothers confidence, and gained the end-of-the-tounge for five cents. Another time where Francie displayed a great amount of confidence was when she was sent to the butcher again.Francie started the negotiations.Ten cents worth of round steak please. Ground? No. Lady was just in. Bought a quarter’s worth of round ground steak. Only I ground too much and here’s the rest on the plate. Just ten cents worth. Honestly I only just ground it.’ This was the pitfall Francie had been told to watch out for, don’t buy from the plate no matter what the butcher says. No. My mother wants ten cents worth of ground steak. (p. 39).
Later on in the book, as Francie gets older, her confidence is more present. The harsh world that she had lived in forced her to become an adult in her mid-teens. She had to work to help support her family. Her mother taught her how to be strong. She learned early on how harsh the world could be. And also to stand up for what she believes in. Francie had such a wonderful way of escaping reality, she would read books that were borrowed from the library and she would also write stories. This was her most favorite things to do. When she was young, every Saturday she would take a trip to the library and check out a new and exciting book. She had a unique way of reading her books, from A to Z is how she did it, by the authors last name. She was determined to read every book in the libraby. Books took Francie to a whole other world, a world of her own that no one could ruin. Not even the world that she lived in. Francie was always a smart child. She stood out from the other children in her class. Francie was a wonderful story writer. She would write stories of fiction and non-fiction. Some of her stories were also about her father passing away. Francie wanted to grow up and become a writer. She even had a story of hers published in a school newspaper.
The passing of Johnny Nolan was tragic. Many people mourned the loss of that man, even though he was a drunk. Francie was epically distraught over him dieing. Johnny was the only one that truely loved Francie. This was by far, the most sad part of the book. Just imagineng what that poor child had to be feeling made me upset. Johnny passed away due to pnemonia and alcoholism. If Johnny had not drank so often his family would be in better shape and his children would not go to bed hungry. The death of Johnny was also very hard on Katie because she had a baby coming. Something that she was not ready for, nor did she want. She knew that her family was going to make it, but it was going to be hard. As Katie’s due date draws near, she tells Francie that she should remain nearby to her at all times. Francie actually feels close to her mother for the first time ever. Although Katie loves Neeley better, Francie realizes that she needs her daughter more than her son and does not hesitate to let Neeley know this. Francie asks her mother if she would like her to drop out of school to help with the bills but her mother insists that she continues her education. Francie was relieved that her mother was in favor of her education. Francie education was her key out of Williamsburg.
Being that Katie was pregnant and basically alone, she had no one to turn to after Johnny’s death. Her children were young and could only offer a limited amount of assistance. Officer McShane was the one to rescue the Nolan family. He was a frined of Johnny’s and he fell in love with Katie. When a resonable amount of time passed after the death of Johnny, Ofiicer McShane asked for Katies hand in marriage. By this time the new child, name Annie Laurie, was already born. Katie greatfully accepted the proposal and they were married. Annie Laurie was adopted by Officer McShane.
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