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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Betty Smith

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions and Essay Topics

full title ·  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

author · Betty Smith

type of work · Novel

genre ·  Bildungsroman (novel about the moral development of the main character); a coming of age novel

language · English

time and place written · Chapel Hill, North Carolina, early 1940's

date of first publication · 1943

publisher · Harper & Brothers

narrator · Omniscient

climax · Sergeant McShane asks Katie Nolan to marry him.

protagonist · Francie Nolan

antagonist · Poverty

setting (time) · Between 1900 and 1918

setting (place) · Williamsburg, Brooklyn

point of view · Omniscient

falling action · The Nolans move out of their home and get ready for the wedding. Francie says good-bye to Brooklyn before she leaves for college.

tense · Past

foreshadowing · There are more instances than can be listed. Henny's death foreshadows Johnny's. Katie's ability to read and write, unlike her mother, foreshadows that Francie will gain a higher level of education than Katie. The scene at the Mattie Mahoney picnic foreshadows the marriage of Katie and McShane.

tone · Mostly sympathetic toward the characters, sometimes childlike or contemplative

themes · Poverty and class issues; education; gender and sex; perseverance through hardship; ethnic and religious identity

motifs · Fall from innocence; American dream; Songs and singing

symbols · The Tree of Heaven

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Character List

by jessiedude64, July 22, 2012

Mr. Seigler
-owns a cheap, dry-goods store

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