Literary Precedents for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

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Because of its conventional comingof-age theme, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn fits the bildungsroman genre, but it is a sentimental, simplistic example of the type. Its lack of serious literary achievement precludes it from formal critical commentary. Smith uses both realistic and naturalistic techniques, concentrating on sometimes exhaustive physical description of the economic poverty of her characters' lives, but she undercuts the effects of poverty by denying its importance and its repressive potential. Therefore, while it is tempting to cite Crane, Dreiser, or Howells as Smith's literary influences, and to suggest that Francie's mean environment has a deadening effect on her development, the novel's basically optimistic drive raises it from the lower depths and propels Francie merrily through the streets of Williamsburg.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a woman's novel, and therefore it might be compared to the comic novels of Barbara Pym, whose...

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This section contains 254 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
Buy the A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Short Guide
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