A Tree Grows By Betty Smith Essay

1096 Words Feb 28th, 2016 5 Pages
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith is a novel about perseverance through hardship, as Francie Nolan grows up in the impoverished immigrant neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, during the 1910s. Her mother Katie works tirelessly as a janitor all day and must support her family because Francie’s father Johnny is an alcoholic. The Nolan family lives each day uncertain if there will be enough money for the bare necessities, such as food or wood for a fire. Throughout the novel, Francie exemplifies perseverance in order to escape the situations in which she is placed. The community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in the early nineteenth century was incredibly diverse. One of the most prominent ethnic groups in this community was the Irish. Most Irish immigrants came to the United States because of civil unrest, severe unemployment, or almost inconceivable hardships at home. However, over a million people left Ireland when the potato crop failed from 1845 to 1852, causing mass starvation, disease, and death. (“Irish and German Immigration”). Another characteristic of Williamsburg and New York City as a whole was its vast number of tenements, which housed the immigrant population. These buildings were single-family dwellings which were divided into multiple living spaces in order to accommodate the city’s growing population. As a result, tenements were poorly lit, cramped, and lacked plumbing and proper ventilation (“Tenements”).
The experiences of Francie and her family…

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