Conflicts Essay Research Paper A Tree Grows

Conflicts Essay, Research Paper

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, by Betty Smith, is often considered to be one of the

best novels of our time. But what makes this, or any, great novel, great? Is a book great

because it makes you think? Maybe its because you can relate to the book. Is it because

the characters are so familiar? Or maybe the way the author writes is what makes it good?

Well, perhaps it is not what the book is about or whether or not you can relate to the

characters, but maybe its about the feelings and elements in the book. The emotions that

the book carries. It was once said that the best literature is about the old universal truths.

Love. Pride. Sacrifice. Truly words that carry special meaning to all of us. There is no

better example of these truths than in Betty Smiths novel, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.

Many find it hard to express love. I find it harder to define love. There are so many

types of love. Truly we have all experienced some form of it but its always hard to label.

So many levels of love, types of love, and ways to love, who can decide? Well one doesn t

need to understand love to know love. The point is clearly defined in A Tree Grows In

Brooklyn. When Johnny sweeps Katie off her feet to Dance to Sweet Rosie O Grady ,

she decides that she wants nothing more than to look at him and listen to him for the rest

of her life. Then and there, she decided that those privileges were worth slaving for all her

life. Perhaps it was a mistake that she made, the there it was, plain and simple, love.

Katie s mother, Mary Rommely, also had a strong love, but it wasn t for her man,

but for her children with whom she protected. Mary hid the children s father from them,

thus protecting them from what she assumed was the greatest evil known. Mary s eldest

child, Sissy, also had a love for children. In this case though, her love for children was

difficult for it seemed impossible for her to have her own for all her attempts got her were

baby s born dead. After each futile birth, her love of children grew stronger. She had

dark moods in which she thought she would go crazy if she didn t have a child to love.

A type of unrequited love you could call it. Still, it was love, and love in any form and on

any level was, love!

When one thinks of what it means to have pride, one often thinks of patriotism and

glory. But there is another kind of pride. The kind of pride that not everyone knows.

Perhaps those who understand it and know it are more lucky, or perhaps we are the lucky

ones for not having known it. It is the pride you have, having grown up poor and lived

poor. Some may think, What pride is there to have in being poor? Why did they take

pride in Johnny, a drunkard, who always spent his tips on liquor rather than his children?

No, they had pride in Johnny because he worked to bring money home to his family, and

that he always came home with a smile on his face, a song in his heart and a good word

for everybody. Francie took pride in her mother for having ground up the coffee beans,

and toiled away in the kitchen turning the coffee mill for her family and her husband. How

Francie never wanted to drink her coffee, but simply loved the smell of it and wanted

nothing more from it but to throw it away. Francie actually worried about not being

proud of her poor family when she was older. Would she be ashamed of her people;

ashamed of handsome papa who had been so light-hearted, kind and understanding;

ashamed of brave and truthful mama who was so proud of her own mother, even though

granma couldn t read or write; ashamed of Neeley who was such a good honest boy?

No! That is what it means to be proud.

As much love as there is in the world, there is sacrifice made out of love. Money

given up, opportunities missed, vacations never taken. Mary Rommely sacrificed her

better living out of love for the children. She couldn t bare the thought of the children left

alone with her husband. Therefore, she put up with him herself, bore his cruel love and

took care of the children. Katie sacrificed a life more bountiful and worthwhile which she

surely could have had, given her looks and charm. She gave it all up to be with Johnny.

Katie thought to herself when she couldn t protect Francie from the heartache of love,

When there wasn t enough food in the house you pretended that you weren t hungry so

they could have more. In the cold of a winter s night you got up and put your blanket on

their bed so they wouldn t be cold. You d kill anyone who tried to harm them . . . In that

brief thought, she said what every mother has once thought. The sacrifice of someone

else s comfort and well being over your own out of love. Francie sacrificed her own

education for Neeley s when they needed money for high school, as she sacrificed her

great salary when Katie depended on it. Sacrifice, perhaps the greatest gift and the most


The universal truths, sacrifice, pride, and love. Emotions and sentiments that have

been carried throughout history and will continue to go on far into the next millennium. A

novel can truly be considered great when it was written close to or over a hundred years

ago and still is so familiar and emotional that it continuously brings joy into the hearts and

homes of the many. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is such a novel.


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