A Tree Grows in Brooklyn takes place in the early 1900’s in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
In the text, “Serene was a 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.” (Smith 1). Francie Nolan, the protagonist, and her family of four are poor. Francie and her family live on the highest floor of their apartment, with ownership of the roof.
For example, “They lived on the top floor instead of the ground floor. There was no stoop as a store occupied the street floor of the house. There was no bathroom and the toilet was in the hall and shared by two families. The only bright spot was that the roof was theirs.
” (Smith 122). Also, the family’s home is surrounded by neighborhood stores (pawn- shop, a bakery, and a dry cleaners.), and a school. “The pole stood against a brick wall which was the windowless side of the neighborhood school… Francie liked the pawnshop almost the best… There was a bakery store to one side of it…” (Smith 128, 135).
Overall, the historical faction novel takes place in the summer of 1912, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and is about a poor family.1. Francie Nolan is the protagonist of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and has a personality that is a combination of both of her parents. Her father, Johnny, has dreams for the future and is loving person. “‘If I Johnny get a lot of tips tonight, I’ll put the money on a good horse that I know is running Monday. I’ll put a couple of dollars on him and win ten.
Then I’ll put the ten on another horse I know and win a hundred… Pipe dreams, he thought to himself, even while he was telling her Francie about his dream winnings.” (Smith 35, 36). On the other hand, her mother, Katie, who knows that if she wants something, she has to go out and get it through hard work. In Chapter 9 Katie’s mother, Mary, explains to her that she must have parenting tactics; that she must make her children read great works of literature (the Bible and Shakespeare), that she must buy a piece of land to build her family on and for her children to one-day inherit, and that she must send all of her children to school. Mary Rommely tells her daughter this in order for her grandchildren to be successful civilians in America, and so they have a better life than most people. Katie works hard and long at the goals that her mother inspired her to set, and saves up money in a tin can bank for their lot of land.
Francie is a combination of the two personalities because she is caring and has dreams for her future (like her father), but knows that she has to work hard for what she wants to fulfill her dreams. “Francie thought that all the books in the world were in that library and she had a plan about reading all the books in the world. She was reading a book a day in alphabetical order and not skipping the dry ones.” (Smith 22). Francie has dreams to read every single book in the library, like her father has dreams of money, and takes action to accomplish her dream, like her mother works hard for the property that she wants her children to inherit.
Therefore, Francie has the combined personality of her parents. 2. Sissy Rommely, Francie’s aunt on her mother’s side of the family, is a dynamic character. Sissy is caring and very motherly, (because she always wants children of her own but has very unlucky pregnancies), and cares for Francie and Neeley like they are her own children. “‘From now on, your teacher will let you leave the room any time you have to… The next morning, ten minutes before school started, Sissy was in that classroom confronting the teacher.” (Smith 156). For Francie Sissy went as far as to lie to her teacher that Francie was her child, that she had a kidney problem, and that the cop that works outside the school is her husband.
Sissy did this just so Francie doesn’t have to go to the bathroom in her pants at school because the teacher ingress her when she raises her hand. That takes courage and love for someone to do that. However, Sissy has not the best reputation with men. “At ten, Sissy was a as fully developed as a woman of thirty and all the boys were after Sissy and Sissy was after all the boys. At twelve, she started keeping steady company with a lad of twenty.
” (Smith 63). Although Sissy has a good heart and good intentions, she just cant help herself.