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.