A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Questions and Answers
by Betty Smith

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What is the central conflict in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn?

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The main conflict in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is the main character’s struggle with her own poverty. The Nolan family’s poverty is the root of all other conflicts in the novel: for example, the struggle between Francie’s parents, Francie’s struggle to obtain an education, and her struggle with her own self-image and her relationship with her family.

Francie’s parents, Katie and Johnny, were doomed from the beginning due to Johnny’s alcoholism and inability to provide for his family, thereby leaving the burden to his wife and two children. In the third book of the novel, Johnny’s death and the birth of Francie’s youngest sibling, Annie...

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