Coming of Age in A tree Grows in Brooklyn Essay

This essay has a total of 1248 words and 5 pages.

Coming of Age in A tree Grows in Brooklyn

Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn presents the problems of a child growing up, the
coming of age when one meets challenges and overcomes obstacles. The protagonist, Francie
Nolan, undergoes a self-discovery as she strives to mature living in the Brooklyn slum
despite its poverty and privation. Thus, Smith's thematic treatment of the struggle of
maturity has become for the reader an exploration of loneliness, family relationships, the
loss of innocence, and death and disease.

One of the challenges of growing up is loneliness. As a small child living in Brooklyn
Francie had no friends her age, the kids in her neighborhood that would have been
candidates for friends either found her too quiet or shunned her for being different. "So
in the warm summer days the lonesome child sat on her stoop and pretended disdain for the
group of children playing on the sidewalk" (pg. 106). Francie played with her imaginary
companions and made believe they were better than real children. But all the while her
heart beat in rhythm to the poignant sadness of the song the children sang while walking
around in a ring with hands joined." As time went by and Francie got older she began to
get to know a different kind of loneliness. "Spring came early that year and the sweet
warm nights made her restless. She walked up and down the streets and through the park.
And wherever she went, she saw a boy and a girl together; walking arm-in-arm, sitting on a
park bench with their arms around each other, standing closely and in silence in a
vestibule. Everyone in the world but Francie had a sweetheart or a friend she seemed to be
the only lonely one in Brooklyn without a friend. (pg. 403)" Loneliness is one of the
challenges we must all conquer as part of maturing and it helps us learn to be independent
and overcome hardship.

Family relationships are a second problem faced by all in their coming of age. Francie
loves her Johnny Nolan, her father, more than anything, she adores the way he talks and
the way that he sings. She and him understand each other perfectly and Johnny Nolan is
well aware of how to show Francie that he loves her. Francie's relationship with Katie
Nolan, her mother, however is very different. Francie says at one time in the book that
she does not understand Katie and Katie does not understand her because they are too
alike, and on the contrary they can both understand Johnny and Francie's brother, Neely,
because they are so different from them. Katie also loves Neely more than she does Francie
and this proposes a problem because Francie is well aware of this and tries hard not to be
jealous of her brother because of it. Also seen in the book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is
the relationship between two people of the opposite sex and married couples which is
different than the love of a child. Francie gets her first taste of romance when she
overhears a conversation about how her parents first met. Kate and Johnny Nolan had once
loved each other quite passionately, but as they faced hardships together and raised
children their romance faded. Although Kate still loved Johnny she also hated him for his
alcoholism. Francie's own first experience with male-companionship occurred when she was
fourteen and a shy Albie Seedmore asked her to the movies. Although nothing came of that
relationship she realized that she was becoming a women and yearned for love. Eventually
Francie will meet Lee Rhynor with whom she falls passionately in love with but damages her
Continues for 3 more pages >>




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