Although great loyalty is expressed about this place, and affection is clear, the novel simultaneously criticizes the poverty inherent in the slum areas of this district. At times, one could argue that the thematic interest in Brooklyn, and Francie’s love for it, tend to overshadow the stark poverty that Francie’s family (and others of her class) clearly have to endure. Before she and Neeley are able to work and assist in contributing to the household, it is evident that they often suffered from hunger if not starvation.
At the beginning of the novel, and immediately after alluding to the tree of the title, the novel tells of how Francie makes money as an 11 year old by collecting rubbish all week. This is written of as a matter of fact, but it is also a useful introduction to a life where every penny is valued.
This novel is careful to demonstrate that those who come from the lowest social class are human beings, and not sub-humans as a doctor is heard to tell a nurse in Chapter Eighteen. Through Francie, the lowest social groupings are given a voice.
Value of education
Because Francie’s family understands the importance of education, and the benefits of giving children aspirations, this theme is often drawn upon to explain Francie’s drive to escape the harsh living conditions of her childhood. The references to this theme also give the novel a strong social conscience as the novel presses for equality and fair treatment.
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn: Theme Analysis