Coming of Age in a Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Decent Essays
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…show more content…
Francie lost the first of her innocence between her eleventh and twelfth birthdays as things began changing rapidly for her. She began noticing that days flew by quicker and soon began realizing that the future was not as far off as she first suspected and would soon be a thing of the past. Francie 's loss of innocence ruined many things for her like the theater, the childish games she once played, and many of the things she had formerly grown to love were quickly dismissed as foolish and comical. The final loss of her innocence however came with her first romance involving a man by the name of Lee Rhynor. Francie and Lee had only known each other for forty-eight days when they confessed undying love for each other. Francie promises to wait for Lee while he is away fighting in the war: "And he asked for her whole life as simply as he 'd ask for a date. And she promised away her whole life as simply as she 'd offer a hand in greeting or farewell." (Pg. 450). Francie is heartbroken and in turn loses the last of her innocence when she finds out that Lee returned to his home town and proceeded to marry another girl and that his so called passionate love for her had only been a cruel joke. Francie 's loss of innocence transformed her into a new person as she began to look at the world in a new light and see things as they were and not what she wanted them to be. Death and disease is another obstacle everyone encounters as they
Get Access