Adriana Vergona E1HPI-71/16/17 Ms.
Braisted I. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn written Betty Smith is a historical fiction Bildungsroman novel. II.The setting of a novel is composed of three different concepts; time setting, place, and social background.The initial setting of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is exposed to the reader during the first few pages of the novel.
For instance, Smith states, ” Serene was the word you could put to Brooklyn, New York. Especially in the summer of 1912. Somber, as a word, was better. But it did not apply to Williamsburg, Brooklyn” (5).
This information reveals the time and place setting of the novel, the summer of 1912 as the time and Williamsburg, Brooklyn as the place setting. The social background setting of the protagonist, Francie Nolan, is an impoverished young lady. ” The one tree in Francis’s yard was neither a pine nor a hemlock..
. it grew in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps and it was the only tree that grew out of cement it grew lushly but only in tenement districts… That was the kind of tree it was. It like poor people. That was the kind of tree and Francie’s yard” (Smith 6). This illustration reveals that Francie Nolan and her family were poor. This is so based on the fact she lives by this tree and in one of the flats of the tenement district, thus making her family’s social background impoverishment. Since this story is set over a period of time, the time setting ranges from 1900 when her parents, Katie Rommely and John Nolan, first met in 1918 with Francie going off to college. The place setting also alters throughout the novel since the Nolan family has moved to different flats, but they have remained in Brooklyn, New York.
In addition, the social background of Francie Nolan is also altered. For instance, ” The University of Michigan was there. And in two more days, she would be on a train heading for Ann Arbor” (Smith 447). This detail exemplifies the social background change for Francie. Because she was off to college, this means she would be getting a grand education, thus changing her class. All in all, time, place, and social background settings are revealed to the reader throughout the text. III.
Mary Frances Nolan, the protagonist, is a second generation Irish-American who was born and raised in Brooklyn. She was a, “… slender, frail creature with wondering eyes and a soft fluttery voice ” (Smith 69). Francie is a dynamic character.
As a young girl, Francie was naive yet smart and observant, but she was also a dreamer. For instance, Francie was always at the library reading and she takes note of certain words or phrases that are unknown. Francie changed from a naive, timid girl, to a confident, intelligent young woman.
” School days were eagerly anticipated by Francie. She wanted all the things that she thought came with school” (Smith 143). “After some time, Francie liked school in spite of all the meanness, cruelty, and unhappiness” (Smith 163). This situation exemplifies how Francie’s expectations were spoiled by the realities of school. This revelation leads to Francie’s change because she realizes that her knowledge will assist her in the future.
The naive ways of Francie are portrayed through this situation because she is unknowledgeable about everyday concepts and believes the good in everything. Also, Smith states on page 427, “‘Mama, no matter what you say, I won’t go to high school.’ ‘But you fought to go last year…’ ‘But what in the world could I learn in high school now?” This quote reveals that Francie believes high school is a waste of time-based on all of her knowledge.
To not want to go to high school shows that Francie is confident in herself and her knowledge that she will succeed without college, thus revealing that Francie has changed into a confident and intelligent young woman from a naive, timid, girl. Clearly, Francie Nolan is a dynamic character in the novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Katie Rommely, a round character, is a first-generation Irish-American citizen who is the wife of John Nolan (And Mr. McShane after John dies) and the mother of Francie, Neely, and Laurie. “Mama is twenty-nine.
She had black hair and brown eyes and was quick with her hands. She had a nice shape, too.… She was so pretty and slight and vivid and was always bubbling over with intensity and fun” (Smith 12). This illustration shows the overall attitude and character of Katie. It portrays how Katie acts and what kind of personality she has. Also, Katie states, “I cant teach her anything more than I, myself, know so little.
You are poor, mother. Johnny and I are poor. The baby will grow up to be poor. We can’t be any more than we are this day” (Smith 81). This detail reveals a softer side to Katie’s personality, thus proving the many layers to her personality and attitude. Also, it proves that Katie has different attitudes towards certain situations and people rather than others. All in all, Katie Rommely is a round character.IV.
The plot of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn starts with the exposition. The exposition is when the reader first meets Francie in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in the summer of 1912. Francie tells about the tree in her backyard called the Tree of Heaven. It is called the Tree of Heaven because it grows in unideal circumstances and in dire situations.
Smith states, ” It grew in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps and it was the only tree that grew out of cement. It grew lushly but only in the tenement districts…. That was the kind of tree it was.
It liked poor people” (Smith 6) This proves that this tree grew like a weed, it grew without want in unideal circumstances. Even though it grew like a weed, it gave people hope, hence the name it was given, The Tree of Heaven. This further proves that this tree was a symbol of hope, growth, and empowerment throughout the text. The inciting incident was when Francie is waiting for bread and notices an elder’s grotesque feet.
She frightened herself by creating a background story to this character. ” no his children are getting old too, like him, and they have children and nobody wants the old man anymore and they’re waiting for him to die. But he don’t want to die. He wants to keep on living even though he’s so old and there’s nothing to be happy about anymore…
suddenly Francie jumped up. Her heart was beating fast. She was frightened… suddenly she would be an old woman with toothless gums and feet that disgusted people” (Smith 16-17).
This situation portrays that Francie doesn’t want to end up like the man; she doesn’t want to be alone. This revelation also shows that she’s concerned about her future. Many events lead up to the conflict in this story. The rising action consists of multiple events. One event is when Francie witnesses Joanna being stoned. Joana was a young lady who was impregnated by a man whom she wasn’t married to and this was frowned upon. “Get off the street, you whore..
.’ It was the signal for the other woman to start throwing stones. Some headed Joanna but if sharp pointed one missed and struck the baby’s forehead..
. From that time on… she hated woman” (Smith 233-234, 237). This situation proves that Francie has seen the cruelty of others and knows to be weary of others.
Also, this proves that Francie’s loneliness will continue in the future due to the conclusion she drew on hating woman. Another event of the rising action is when Francie is sexually assaulted. ” Francie stared at the exposed part of his body in horror… and at that the pervert pressed his body close to hers, petting her against the banister.
He began on doing her clenched fingers, one by one”(Smith 255-256). Clearly, after this Francie was horrified and scared, which reveals this situation contributed to her loneliness. Also, this contributes to her loss of innocence because she was put in a traumatic situation and again saw the true intentions of people. The crisis of the plot occurred when her beloved father passed away. “Francie stood numb. There was no feeling of surprise or grief. There was no feeling of anything. What Mama just said had no meaning” (Smith 282).
This traumatic event is the crisis because it’s the main event that leads to a change, a bigger event. This event illustrates that Francie is about to undergo a major change in her life, the adjustment of life without her father. Also, this situation will help her grow and flourish throughout the remainder of the book because she and her brother must learn to grow up to assist the family. The climax is when Francie changes from a girl to a woman.
After Francie went to work, the reader sees her attitude shift and her personality alter, she grew up. “It’s our first pay and we’d like to take it home in new money.” This quote reveals that Francie and Neely had to get jobs in order to support the family.
Also, it proves that they have matured in the sense that they have takes responsibility for themselves and their family. The Falling action consists of many events. One event is when Francie started going to college courses. ” Mama, I have sixty-five dollars of the money you can savings for me towards college..
.? Summer school college” (Smith 428). Katie Rommely obliged to Francie’s wishes and Francie was enrolled in college. This situation exemplifies the change that Francie went through after those traumatic events.
She was more knowledgeable, confident, strong, and independent, hence the reason she desired to go to college. Another event in the falling action is when Francie meg Lee and she fell in love. ” I love you, Lee” (Smith 458). This revelation shows how Francie is maturing and growing up and becoming more independent. She is less dependent on her parents and is ready for a complex relationship.
Lee goes back home and marries another woman, even though he told Francie he wouldn’t and ends up breaking her heart. Yet again, we see the loss of innocence shown because she is now more knowledgeable about the world around her and what certain situations and feelings are. The resolution to the conflict is when Francie makes it into college. “The University of Michigan was there and in two more days, she would be on a train heading for Ann Arbor…
That meant that she, sixteen and a half years old, could now enter college with half year’s freshman credits behind her.” This exemplification reveals that Francie is extremely intelligent. Also, this shows that she would be starting fresh in a new environment with all her knowledge with her, so she would get a fresh start.
The denouement is when Francie says goodbye to Brooklyn when she leaves for college. For instance, the Smith states, “It was the last time she’d see the river from that window. The last time of anything has the poignancy of death itself. This that I see now, she thought, to see no more this way. Oh, the last time how clearly you see everything; as though a magnifying light had been turned on it. And you grieve because you hadn’t held it tighter when you had it every day” (476). This exemplification reveals that Francie is hesitant to leave because she loves Brooklyn and where she lives. Clearly, she will miss her hometown and adores it dearly.
V. A major conflict demonstrated throughout the duration of the novel A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is an external conflict, person v. society.
In the novel, the society has a major role in Francie’s development and growth, due to the obstacles life brings her. Her poverty and her family’s financial state has lead to discrimination and the harsh realities of the world. For instance, “I know. Isn’t it terrible? I sympathize with you, Doctor.
There is no excuse for these people to be living in filth” (Smith 147) This illustrates that this nurse was reposed by the living conditions of the impoverished and frowned upon them. The children must endure the cruelty of society in their everyday lives. In addition, “When money ran out and food ran low, Katie and the children pretended they were explorers discovering the North Pole and had been trapped in a blizzard in a cave with just little food” (Smith 218) This game reveals that Katie tried to distract the children that they didn’t have any money or any food. Also, it also reveals that this happened quite often, considering she made a game for it. This reveals that the Nolan Family had many obstacles regarding poverty. The resolution is when Francie states, “We’re not poor anymore” (Smith 394).
This quote reveals that their financial hardships are over and can proceed to live without discrimination of others. All in all, a major external conflict of the text is VI.The Coming of age or the loss of innocence is a theme shown throughout the work. For example, ” Am I curious about sex? The line on the inner edge of her right eyebrow deep end.
She crossed out the sentence and rewrote it to read: “I am curious about sex” (Smith 248). This representation reveals that Francie’s interest in the topic shows her growing up and wanting to know more. Also, a child’s interest in an adult topic shows how Francie lost her innocent and child-like ways.
In addition, “‘ I need someone,’ thought Francie desperately. ‘ I need someone. I need to hold somebody close.
And I need more than this holding. I need someone to understand how I feel at a time like now'” (Smith 404). This quote exemplifies Francie’s desire for mature relationship. Her want for somebody illustrates how she is less dependent on her parents and more dependent on herself and a significant other. This reveals that she has come of age because she no longer has the mindset of a young girl, but rather a young woman.
Evidently, the coming of age and the loss of innocence are shown throughout the text.