Essay, Research Paper
Francie and Her Relationship with Her Parents
Relationships, especially with parents, can be a very difficult part of life. A
Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a novel by Betty Smith, focuses mainly on Francie Nolan
and her relationships with people in her life. Francie and her family live in small
towns in Brooklyn most of their lives. The novel tracks Francies s life from
childhood to adolescence while exploring Francie s relationship with her parents.
Although Francie s relationship with her father is very strong, after Johnny s death
she becomes closer to her mother.
To begin with, Francie and her father have a very loving and caring
relationship. First, Francie is not happy at school because she is poor and gets
treated badly. She tells her father that she saw a school that she wants to go to and
asks him to let her go. Johnny and Francie visit the school and since Francie is very
enthusiastic about going, Johnny signs a note that says she is going to stay with her
siblings and has to transfer schools. Johnny also writes a fake address of a house
that Francie thinks is pretty. Though this is wrong, Johnny forges the note because
he really cares about Francie. Johnny wants to do what is best for her and what will
make Francie happy. This event brings Johnny and Francie even closer together. In
addition, another example Francie and her father s positive relationship is the
pervert incident. Francie comes home from school one day and walks into her
apartment when all of a sudden a man comes out from behind her with his penis
out. The man grabs Francie as his penis rubs against her leg. She is frozen and feels
that she cannot move. After the incident: Johnny ran to Francie, and, as big as he
was, he picked her up in his arms as though she were a baby. He rocked her and
told her to go to sleep. Francie kept insisting that she wanted her leg cut off…. He
put Francie back on the couch, got the carbolic acid and swabbed the spot with the
strong raw stuff. Francie welcomed the burning pain of the acid. (p. 227) Here
Smith shows Johnny comforting Francie while Katie does not. Johnny means well,
yet shows bad judgment by putting carbolic acid on Francie and scaring her for life.
Francie is weak for the first time and Johnny does all he can to make her feel better.
Due to Johnny s loving and caring for Francie, the two have a good relationship.
Furthermore, before Johnny s death Francie and her mother have a
mediocre relationship. The time comes when Francie and her brother Neeley need to
get vaccinations from a doctor. Katie tells them that she must get work done and
they have to go by themselves. Neeley complains about having to go to the doctor
and Francie thinks: She loved that boy so much. Part of her reason for not going
with them was that she couldn t bear to see the boy hurt. (p. 127) Here, a tense
relationship between Francie and Katie is shown. It is implied that Katie will go
with them to the doctor, because she favors Neeley, but she has work to do. Katie
does not seem to care much about Francie and thinks of her like an average person
and not like her daughter. Another example of Francie and Katie s relationship is
when Francie and Neeley bring home a Christmas tree. The two go to a tree vendor
and win the tree by catching it. Johnny is amazed that the kids are able to get a tree
on their own while Katie is depressed that her children are happy about such simple
things. Katie admits that she loves Neeley more than Francie because he will never
leave her and at the same time realizes that Francie is growing apart from her.
While Johnny is still alive, Francie and her mother have a poor relationship.
Finally, Francie and her mother form a closer relationship after her father s
death. School is over for both Francie and Neeley and they are both ready to
graduate. After the graduation is over, the family goes to a soda shoppe. Katie
usually does not leave a big tip, if she does leave one at all. Francie asks her mom to
please leave a tip, for her, since it is her graduation and it s the least she can do. As
they are leaving, Katie leaves a big tip on the table and Francie smiles to her. She is
very happy that her mother left a tip and Katie is happy too. This is evidence that
Francie and Katie s relationship has grown closer and stronger after the death of
her father. Another is example where Katie and her mother become closer is after a
bad experience with a man. Francie meets a man named Lee who is very nice and
asks her to spend the night out with him. She agrees and they go out eat. They
discuss that both of them are lonely, but Lee is already engaged. Lee asks her to
spend the night with him, but Francie declines. She feels that she isn t ready to
make that kind of commitment. After Lee leaves, Francie gets a letter from his wife
saying that Lee was kidding which badly hurts Francie. Francie explains to her
mother what happened and her mother says:
There are two truths, said Katie finally.
As a mother, I say it would have been a terrible thing to sleep with a
stranger… Your whole life might have been ruined.
But as a woman… It would have been a very beautiful thing. Because there
is only once that you love that way. (p. 407) This displays that even though
Francie and Katie aren t very close before, Francie goes to Katie for help. Katie
does not just lecture Francie, she explains that Francie can do what is morally right
or what is meaningful because of passion.. This makes the chasm between Francie
and Katie smaller. Francie and her mother have formed a closer relationship after
her father s death.
In conclusion, after her father s death, Francie s relationship with her
mother becomes much stronger. With the bond that Francie and her mother have
made, the two may become even closer in the future.