A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Questions and Answers
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What does Francie’s father do for a living in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn?

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Francie's father is a singing waiter. 

Francie's father, Johnny Nolan, never is able to secure steady work; he only works "at one-night places here and there".  He would undoubtedly be able to better provide for his family if, like the other waiters who meet at Union Headquarters, he had a regular waiter job during the week and could pick up extra money on Saturday nights.  Johnny Nolan, however, is an alcoholic, and the odd jobs he gets are all he can handle.  Francie's father tries to be a good provider, bringing the entirety of his meager wages home to his wife for the running of the household, but he turns all his tips over to McGarrity, the bartender; McGarrity, in turn, keeps him supplied with drinks.

Johnny Nolan is a man with great, lyrical dreams and aspirations.  He once wanted nothing more than to be a stage singer, and even now dreams of winning big at the horse races and taking his daughter on a trip "way down south where the cotton blossoms blow".  He has neither the means nor the will, however, to rise above his dependence on drink and the grinding poverty in which he and his family live.  Despite his ineptness as a provider, however, there is something about her father that Francie loves.  She knows he is "no good...he (says) so himself", yet Francie recognizes something which she cannot quite name in Johnny Nolan, and in her childlike way, she is proud of him (Chapter 3).

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internetjocelyn | Student

Francie's father, Johnny Nolan, is an erstwhile singing waiter. Though he has worked numerous odd jobs, waiting tables is his primary occupation. Singing waiters would both serve and entertain guests with song at restaurants and catered events. Because he is frequently unemployed due to his chronic alcoholism, Francie's mother, Katie, is forced to work as a cleaning woman in order to provide for the family. Johnny's voice, charm, and dapper appearance make him a popular neighborhood fixture and he is admired by his fellow singing waiters. His uniform is a single suit with a celluloid collar. The family often pawns the suit in order to make ends meet. People are often willing to look the other way and give him multiple chances to redeem himself when his alcoholism prevents him from doing his job properly or causes him to lose employment opportunities.

aurora101 | Student

He is a singing waitor.

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