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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Author Betty Smith
Type of Work Novel
Bildungsroman (novel about the moral development of the main character); a coming of age novel
Time and place written Chapel Hill, North Carolina, early 1940's
Date of First Publication 1943
Publisher Harper & Brothers
Climax Sergeant McShane asks Katie Nolan to marry him.
Protagonist Francie Nolan
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.
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
Ace your assignments with our guide to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn!