Female Characters in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
In the tradition of Little Women, this book has wonderful female characters that are dignified in spite of their challenging circumstances. Francie Nolan was raised in poverty, however, by loving, wonderful women of her mother's family, was read every night, Shakespeare and the Bible. Her mother, Katie who is strong and practical, and her aunt Sissy, an unconventional woman of passion and independent spirit, and her grandmother, Mary who is so wise. Francie's father, Johnny who is a romanticist, very flawed, however, he is a loving father with child like innocence whose presence continues throughout Francie's life. The story is real, real about the poverty, about alcoholism, about the prejudice. The author neither sweetens/romanticizes the challenges of poverty and lack of opportunities, nor pities self. As Francie grows up, the world through her eyes, and her keen observation, becomes colder and harsher but, like a tree, "tree of life", Francie perseveres and she leaves Brooklyn as she says goodbye to herself.