Mrs. Schuet's AP Literature Class of '16 discussion

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
This topic is about A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

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Romi Elyashar | 4 comments I chose this book because it was recommended to me by a family member, and when I read what it's about, it seemed to be a book I would really like.

I have just finished the first chapter, and so far I am enjoying it. The novel is about Francie Nolan, a young girl who lives in a neighborhood in Brooklyn. In the first chapter, a day in her life is described, from earning pennies from the junkie to going to the store and having lunch with her mother. Also, at the very beginning of the chapter, her neighborhood is described, and throughout the chapter it becomes clear that her family is poor.

message 2: by Holly (new)

Holly Hawkinson | 7 comments From what you read so far, do you think she is going to rise out of her poverty?

message 3: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 4 comments The title of this book caught my attention as I was scrolling through; is the tree growing in Brooklyn a symbol for Francie, or someone else?

Romi Elyashar | 4 comments Holly: From what I've read so far, I think that although she is poor, the book doesn't focus on that. It's written from her perspective, the way she looks at life, and she treats it as very matter-of-fact. She actually feels rich sometimes, because her mother believes it is alright for her to pour her ration of coffee down the sink if she wants. Every time she does that, she feels rich because she has something to waste. So, I got the impression that the book will not focus too much on her poverty.

Elizabeth: The tree growing in Brooklyn is called the Tree of Heaven, and it only grows in the tenements, which are the poor parts of the city. Francie actually notes that it is impossible for this tree to grow in the wealthier parts. Therefore, I think that maybe it is a symbol of hope, that although the area is poor and run-down, such a beautiful tree can still grow there.

One thing I noticed about the novel is that it contains sexism, and that sexism is viewed very nonchalantly. For example, after Francie and her brother earn some money, she gives it to him to divide even though he is younger than her, because "he was the boy; he handled the money" (8). Also, one of the candy stores in the area has an "unwritten law" (9) that it is a boys' store, so Francie does not go inside. I wonder how this type of sexism will affect Francie in the future and if it will always remain like this, especially since Francie just accepts it and does not seem to be bothered by it.

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