A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Study Questions and Essay Topics
What role does song and singing play in the novel?
What is Francie's relationship to reading and writing? Why is it important?
How does Johnny's death serve as a structuring device for the book? In what way does itinform what happens after? How do things change?
Suggested Essay Topics
How is the book's historical time period significant to the story? Think aboutFrancie's stage of development when America enters the war.
The narrator writes that the Rommely women are "made of invisible steel." How dothe character developments of Johnny and Katie parallel the relationship between Evy andWillie?
Although people look down on Sissy's promiscuity, Francie adores her, and Katiebelieves she is good and generous to everyone she meets. What makes Sissy good, and howdoes her character reflect on the morals of the book in general?
Immigration and ethnic identity are important themes among the people ofWilliamsburg. How does ethnic and religious identity play itself out in the community? Howdo the groups live side-by-side, and how does their background shape their values? How does Francie's family fit in?
Brooklyn is a dreamlike place to Francie. How does the time and place in whichFrancie grows up shape the person she is? Think about all of her favorite stores andcelebrations in her neighborhood.
How does Joanna's stoning shape the way Francie thinks about sex and the role ofwomen in general?
Find three instances in which the tree is discussed, and read them carefully.Although the tree always represents hope and perseverance, its use at different points inthe novel suggests it also has more specific significations. How is the symbol used differently each time? How does it still represent the same idea?