A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

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Part I - General Review1. Brief plot summary (one or two sentences)The general summary of the book is about a young girl struggling to live in a poor lifestyle of Brooklyn. Eventually when the girl named Francie has grown to an older age, there will be numerous changes to her life when the world experiences many advances.

2. Brief description of two main characters (one or two sentences for each one)The main characters in the book would be the Nolan family and a few of their relatives. Johnny Nolan is the father of the family but he is not much of an average father that would help bring most of the money for the family. His character is known to be a person who takes his mind off his problems by drinking and since he is a singer/waiter, he would not earn a lot of money. Johnny gives money to his family but only a small portion and leaves the rest of the money to invest in alcohol.

Johnny's wife, Katie Nolan is one of the several main characters that play a critical role in the story by keeping the family in tact at all times. She knew Johnny would not be able to support their family on his own so she had decided to work as well. Both of these characters are major elements in Francie Nolan's life.

3. I do/do not recommend this book because...

I would strongly recommend this book because this is not the ordinary books that modern teenagers would read independently. "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" is known to be a book categorized in the classics section and that would not draw much attention to young readers our age. Although the book might seem unwanted, when the audience actually starts reading, they will be overwhelmed and touched from what hardships and obstacles people back then had to struggle through. Perhaps this book will help many people realize what other societies that are not as fortunate as us, will go through in their lives. I personally would have never imagined a life like that could be possible and has changed my perspectives. The author has a technique that incorporates defined details into the storyline and that makes you feel like your actually there.

Part II- Interview of Major Character:1. How do you feel about the way you were portrayed in this book?At the beginning of the book, I was described as an innocent young girl that appreciates every single aspect of life. The author gives numerous examples of me finding happiness in very simple subjects like the vast categories of books that I could pick from in the library. When the author makes a combination of an innocent girl in a poor neighborhood and life, the reader can really understand my background or where I had come from. I think this depiction of me in the past is very necessary for the audience because that part of my life helps to demonstrate how I have changed throughout time.

2. What was your most difficult moment in this book? Why?My most difficult moment in the book would most probably be when my father, Johnny Nolan had died. I was always exceptionally close to him and especially when we had time to talk to each other by ourselves. Those moments constantly made me really feel happy and I would just be there listening to my father telling me about his day. Once when my father had forgotten something at home, I went to his job and found out about the many people who had admired him. From that day on or even before that, I had admired him too because even though he has some negative sides, he is still a good person to me. There were numerous times when he saw me in pain and he had tried his best to encourage me to be happy. For example, the school that I had attended was full of students that were not like me and I did not really fit in so my father had transferred me to a better school where discriminations against poor or wealthy were not present. When he had passed away, it really was the most difficult time I had ever experience because we all just loved him dearly.

3. What was going through your mind during this difficult moment?As mentioned before, I had always loved my father exceedingly and I still do. In my opinion and many others, Johnny Nolan was a very good man to our family but in religion, it is said good people will received good things but that did not happen to my father. My family had always maintained Catholic traditions and when I was young, I had never missed a session to attend the church. After my father's death, I stopped believing in religion. Since Johnny was the one that had made it possible for me to attend a good school, my grades were very crucial to me. Although this was true, I started writing about all the negative aspects of humanity, in response to my father's death. The death of my father helped me realize who I really was or wanted to be, it helped me discover my identity.

4. If you could change any actions in this book, what would you do differently?In my perspective, the storyline was as flawless as can be so there I would not change any aspect of the book. Maybe the only aspect of the story I would change would be the very few fragments of my life when I was younger. I remember the time when Neeley, my younger brother, ran along to play with his friends while I had just tagged along a few steps behind them. I should have been more interactive with them because then I would not have been so bored but if I did indeed do that, it would change my personality. Usually if I was not tagging along with his friends, I would be reading books and be withdrawn from reality. Since I would not like my personality to be taken away, there would not be much to alter.

5. How do you really feel about the other characters in the book? Why?There is a variety of affections I have for the other characters and it all depends on who they are. For example, my father is a character has a few flaws such as drinking but he is still loved greatly. I admire my mother for her hardship for keeping the family in tact. Even though our family will face financial and other types of obstacles, my mother will remain strong and proud through everything. From my mother's side, there were women like Aunt Sissy that were very unique. Numerous people had started rumors about Aunt Sissy because she shows too much affection to men but deep inside, she just wants to take care of everyone. Both Neeley and I love it when Aunt Sissy comes over because we do so many activities with her. Once when Aunt Sissy was with us, we created fancy objects from arts and crafts. Everyone in the Nolan family creates a more comfortable atmosphere.

6. Describe your emotional strengths to the reader (what makes you feel proud). Give at least two examples from the book.

My emotional strength is how I managed to survive in a life of poverty. Since I was raised in this kind of life, it was pretty normal to me but having a life of poverty is not always that easy. Although having a poor lifestyle might seem overwhelming to others, the aspect of my personality I am most proud of would be that I can be fond of very simple everyday objects. To be able to find happiness without having to use money is something not everyone can do but I seem to pull it off pretty well. Another fragment of my personality that I am pleased to have would be how determined I am to get a better education. Even though Neeley got to continue school early then I did because my mother favored him, I still worked hard so I can continue my education due to financial problems.

7. Describe your emotional weaknesses to the reader (what embarrasses you).

Sometimes having a father like Johnny Nolan can be embarrassing because of his abusive behavior towards alcohol. During the history of our family, we were forced to move away to another neighborhood because we became such a disgrace since they knew of our family flaws. This can become quite humiliating at times but in the end we finally found a home that was suited to our living. The piano in our permanent home is one thing that we treasure a lot because we would not be able to afford it if it was not free. Another situation that had become a emotional weakness was the time my father passed away. Like when my father had died, we went through many financial problems which had impacted my family tremendously. The Nolan family was already very poor due to the circumstances but when Johnny had died, it had gotten worse. My mother, Katie Nolan also had to obtain more jobs than usual to support our family.

8. What setbacks (problems you have solved) did you experience that strengthened your character?The main setback that I had to deal with would be my father's death. Although his death can not be solved, his death had brought numerous problems in the family and me personally. My mother, Katie Nolan had to suffer financially and had to obtain more jobs than usual until she had met someone from the military that had later supported our family. My father's death along with other exceptionally surprising events like the time I had encountered a sex offender, had changed my life permanently. I had stopped believing in god and related theology. At school my reaction to my father's death was not very positive and I ended up writing everything that was not good in the world like greed. This experience has let me realize what reality really contained and let me discover my inner self or identity. At this point, you can say I partially lost my innocence and gained constructive knowledge.

9. What do you think is your most memorable quotation or speech? Why? Quote a few words/lines from it (choose the most powerful ones).

"The one tree in Francie's yard was neither a pine nor a hemlock. It had pointed leaves which grew along green switches which radiated from the bough and made a tree which looked like a lot of opened green umbrellas. Some people called it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed fell, it made a tree which struggled to reach the sky. 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."This is the first quote I had stumbled upon in the story and I was very fond of the way the author had started the book. The tree in the description is very symbolic because it helps you foretell in the future that the story will not take place in a fancy neighborhood. The "Tree of Heaven" is emphasized to only grow in the tenement districts and that is very critical to the meaning behind it. This special type of tree is something that only these people suffering poverty get to experience and it is something the wealthy do not get to obtain. Quotations like these help the reader understand how grateful the people experiencing poverty can be and what their lives are like.

"A person who pulls himself up from a low environment via the boot-strap route has two choices. Having risen above his environment, he can forget it; or, he can rise above it and never forget it and keep compassion in his heart for those has left behind him in the cruel up climb. The nurse had chosen the forgetting way."The quote demonstrates the two choices in life that an individual might take by forgetting about their past and moving on or moving on without forgetting the past in which they had to go through to get to prosperity. These different decisions in life are intended to separate the similarities between Francie and the nurse she had met. We can tell that the nurse had chosen the first option by her reactions. The doctor had harshly commented the poor people and the nurse were supposed to stand up for Francie since the nurse had also experienced the life of the poor. In the end, Francie will leave Brooklyn and unlike the nurse, she will be proud and never forget where she had come from.

10. What other things about you would you like the reader to know about you that are not covered in the book? Describe these qualities.

The book does cover how much education is very fundamental to my life but there are parts to my education that are not mentioned. Perhaps they are mentioned but not clearly stated for the audience to notice. My grandmother was an immigrant and did not exactly have a good education since she did not know how to read or write. For my mother, it would be a different story because she had a better education with the ability to read and write. These clues help you foretell that I will receive an even better education due to the previous history. In the end of the story, I leave Brooklyn to study in college and that surely proves that my future will be bright in the future.

11. Why are you worth/not worth being written or read about?In my opinion, I firmly believe that I would be worthy enough to be written and read about. My existence can give society insight about the realistic experience that people had to suffer through poverty. Stories like this really help people notice their place in the world to be truly fortunate. For example, the Great Depression had forced numerous people to go through poverty and that was a tragic era and very realistic indeed. There are many unfortunate societies today that still undergo the same experience of what I had gone through. The author does a good job in describing and incorporating defined details into the plot that will make you feel exceptionally engaged.

12. What gift would you give to another character? Why?The character that I would give a present to would be my father and it would be before his death. I would give him something that I can afford and show great appreciation to his presence in my life. Maybe I would give him a young "Tree of Heaven," to represent the glories of living in Brooklyn tenements. He had always thought that he was a bad person and his family had suffered from being his mistake. I want him to know that he in fact did not make any mistake because in the end, we were always happen even if we had a life of poverty.

13. How do you feel about how the author ended the book?The authors ended the book in a very meaningful manner that will capture the reader's heart and make them feel touched. My mother had been married to a man that would take care of her well while Neeley and I don't have to worry about her. In the end, I finally was given the chance to attend college, just like my brother and that had been my dream come true. Even though I had to leave Brooklyn to attend college, I will always remember my background and cherish the memories of the past.

Bibliographies:A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smithand