“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”, written by Betty Smith, is a book that talks about growing and learning. The story takes place in Brooklyn, New York; it is about how a girl grows up in a gutter whose name is Francie Nolan. Her childhood is full of hardship: mom favors her brother. In addition, her dear dad died at a young age.
Moreover, she is born in a poor family; she is also despised in the school. However, she is like the “The Tree of Heaven”, toughly growing in the gutter. In my opinion, the major theme of this book is learning through growing. She learned many things such as creativity and toughness. Toughness makes people stronger and prepares people for the obstacles in their lives. Francie learns from parents and mimics what they do.
When a child is growing, he will absorb everything his parents have. Francie learned toughness from her mom. Francie first shows her toughness when she was born. Many people think she is too weak to survive, but Katie fells like she is like the Tree of Heaven. “Francie wasn't much of a baby. She was skinny and had a blue look and didn't thrive. Katie nursed her doggedly although the neighbor women told her that her milk was bad for the child” (92).
This toughness let her exceed forefathers: grandmother is not capable of reading; mom only finished her education at elementary school level, but Francie is going to the college. Her toughness lets her overcome difficulties and achieve the American dream. Francie learned imagination from her grandmother. “‘Because,’ explained Mary Rommely simply, ‘the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination.
The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out by believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination. ’”(72). Imagination made her life much easier. Her teacher also commends her imagination. Her imagination sometimes makes her unrealistic yet let her get rid of the constraint of the thought. Her grandma can't even read, while suggest Katie to read the Bible and Shakespeare to her children.
Francie and Cornelius nearly have nothing for real, but accidentally gained a huge amount of spiritual wealth. Growing is also getting tougher through bad experience. Francie was once attacked by a prowler. “The murderer reached the foot of the stairs, rounded it, leaped up the two steps, and, quick as a cat, threw one arm about Francie’s neck and pressed his palm to her mouth to prevent her screaming. He put his other arm around her waist and started to pull her away. He slipped and the exposed part of his body touched her bare leg. ”(256).
Fortunately, her mom shoots him in the stomach before much damage is done. When she gets older, she is fooled in love. Her naivete is losing little by little, but getting tougher and tougher. Life is a growing process which contains learning, struggling and challenging. Instead of giving her life up, while Francie is facing difficulties and challenges, she grew and learned from it. And all these tragedies and challenges gradually makes Francie have a better life. Life is a growing process which contains learning. Betty Smith perfectly expounded statement in this book.