In the fictional novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith tells the life experiences of one girl growing up in Brooklyn, New York. The main character of the book, Francie, fulfills the pattern of a questing hero. Smith leads the reader through the high points of Francie’s life as well as the low. One learns of all the obstacles Francie accomplished and while reading, begins to love and appreciate the girl. The reader is first introduced to Francie when she is at the age of eleven. Francie is an average, normal girl growing up in Brooklyn in the year 1912.
She doesn’t have many friends and her family doesn’t have much money, however she enjoys reading and is constantly finding ways to amuse herself. Being as young and innocent as she is, life seems nearly perfect for Francie. Eventually though, Francie realizes that this isn’t the case and, in a sense, looses a bit of her innocence. On her thirteenth birthday, Francie starts to write in a journal. She begins by writing, “Today I am a woman”. In just too short years, Francie grew, learned, and changed immensely. She is a completely different person than the one who existed two years earlier, both physically and mentally.
Francie learned the serious and nearly devastating news that her father is a drunk, and she begins writing entries in her journal such as ‘Jan 10: Papa sick today’. In her journal, Francie also wrote about her curiosity with sex. By this point in the book, Francie is no longer the girl that the reader first met, but she is now a young woman. Although under a fake identity, Francie begins attending school and finds that she truly enjoys it. However, on her way home from school one day, at age fourteen, Francie experiences a horrific moment, one that can never be forgotten. She was molested and nearly raped by a neighborhood sex fiend.
As if not traumatizing enough, Francie also watched her mother shoot the man in her defense. Not long after this, an even greater event takes place in Francie’s life. She is informed of her father’s death, that she is told had been caused of pneumonia. Coping with her father’s death is a struggle, yet Francie begins to live life again with the love of her family and by keeping herself preoccupied with other tasks. Francie works at various jobs and while away, she meets many people. Unfortunately, not everyone she meets is kind to her and Francie even has her heart broken by a man. But, she is able to recover with her mother’s words of wisdom.
Francie is ecstatic to be working and she is also able to take college classes. Her mother is pleased and proud that her daughter is the first in the family to attend college. The reader leaves the questing hero in a state that seems to be almost out of a fairy tale. Francie’s mother marries rich allowing the family to leave their poverty stricken home and lead a better life. One might believe that, when finished with the novel, Smith’s theme was happily ever after. However, after looking at the big picture and analyzing how the characters faced their struggles, one could clearly see the theme to be love conquers all.