A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Places Discussed

Betty Smith

Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Brooklyn. Borough of New York City that in the early twentieth century was filled with immigrant and second-generation Irish, Poles, Jews, and Italians. In this story, Brooklyn comprises neighborhoods of more than one social level, though poor, working people predominate. There are shabby tenements with residents whose lives are spent in sweatshops and other low-paying jobs. There are old houses owned by artisans, craftsmen, and storekeepers, many of whom are second-and third-generation Americans. Most of the schools are overcrowded and dismal, although Francie finds one that is not. There are stores of all kinds—bakeries, groceries, pawnshops, Chinese laundries, spice shops—places where an imaginative child can experience some of the wonders of a world different from her own. The daily life of the inhabitants of this diverse district offers a panorama of the likely, the improbable, and the possible, an education for the receptive heart and mind of a curious child like Francie.

Nolan flat

Nolan flat. Four so-called railroad rooms (one leading into the next) on the third floor of a tenement in Williamsburg. The family must share a bath down the hallway with two other families. This is the third home Katie and Johnny Nolan have had in their seven-year marriage, and it includes a tree growing near the fire escape. The tree provides a leafy bower for Francie during the summer Saturdays as she sits with her books and peppermint candies, reading and watching the tenants in the nearby buildings go...

(The entire section is 636 words.)