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In the book, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith, a the Nolan family lives in a small flat in Brooklyn. Destitute and hopeless, the family struggles every day to survive. The mother and father of the Nolan family are Johnny and Katie Nolan. Katie is strong and calm and works as a cleaning lady at the flat where the family lives, while Johnny is always laid back and entertaining, working as a singing waiter. The children, Francie, and Neeley Nolan do not yet see the cruelty of the world, as they are confined to the lack of understanding that comes with childhood. Francie, the main protagonist of the story, is the oldest child. Her and her brother’s childhood consisted of going to school and collecting junk to trade for money. Francie is an aspiring writer, having one of her works published in the local newspaper. She is very proud of both herself and her family. She deeply admires her father and mother because of Johnny’s welcoming and handsome personality, and Katie’s strong will and compassion for her children. Despite her compassion for both children, she does tend to favor Neeley. She knows that Neeley needs for her to show endless support for him, while Francie, has the same attributes of her mother’s strong will, and, therefore, does not require her perpetual support to move on with her life. However, Francie has a hard time understanding her mother’s favoritism; this develops many problems between the two women throughout their lives. Another discernible difficulty that the Nolans are presented with is Johnny’s alcoholism. As I have said in a previous paper, Johnny does not have the typical drunk tendencies. However, his state sometimes concerns his family and ultimately leads to his death. Throughout all the trials of an impoverished life, Katie and Johnny strive to give their children an education that they never had and only hope for a better life for them and their growing children, who come to realize the harsh world that they are faced with.


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Clearly, the intent of the author, Betty Smith, was to account some of the events that occurred in her own life. Upon reading about the author, I discovered some similarities between her and Francie Nolan. Both of them grew up in Brooklyn and started writing at a young age. I am unsure of Betty Smith’s financial situation as a child, but I can only imagine that it was quite similar to that of the Nolan family. Some other aspects of the book are the stereotype of women that is portrayed. This is no fault to Betty Smith, as I feel as if she portrayed women as gossipy, mean and only good for bearing children because that is how they were in her childhood.

I would most definitely recommend this book; however, many people may disagree with me. I believe it is a great piece of literature and to be read in an English class. It is a great coming of age novel, filled with love and family bonds. I also loved this book for its well-developed characters and the ability to acutely understand their feelings