The Role of Mothers and Mother-Daughter Relationships in a Tree Grows in Brooklyn
The family lives in tenement housing -- small, inexpensive apartments that many immigrant families occupied in New York after immigrating through Ellis Island in the 19th and early 20th century. Francie's parents are important characters in the novel. In Book Two, there is a flashback to when Johnny and Katie met and fell in love. Johnny is fearful and overwhelmed when Katie becomes pregnant at an early age, laying the groundwork for his character later on. Katie is much more determined and practical. The family moves to several apartments before settling in the one that they are living in when the book begins.
These mothers contend with the daughters’ choice of their fathers, in spite of the fact that both men, for the most part, are eventually regarded as disappointments by their families and by the community (Collins, Patricia Hill, 1990).
A microcosm of the United States at this time, Williamsburg is a community that wishes to preserve an illusion of innocence while contending with the unavoidable problems of modern urban life—sex crimes, the lack of birth control, and women who are divided between their traditional roles and their growing wishes for sexual freedom and expression.
Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment. New York: Harper, 1990.
“The Meaning of Motherhood in Black Culture and Black Mother-Daughter Relationships.” In Bell-Scott. 42-60.
Duany, Jorge. “Neither Golden Exile nor Dirty Worm: Ethnic Identity in Recent Cuban-American Novels.” Cuban Studies 23 (1993): 167-186.
Fabre, Genevieve. “Genealogical Archaeology or the Quest for Legacy in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon.” In Critical Essays on Toni Morrison. 105-114.
Holloway, Karla F. C. “The Lyrics of Salvation.” In Holloway and Demetrakopoulos. 101-114.